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II 



-'—> 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



BY TBS SAMS AUTMOB: 

Sartitr PMieaHotu : 

TalM of Wntmi Lift. 
TIm RuIm of th* Game. 
Rottnam : A Political Stndjr. 
The Ongoa Slayer. 
Th* Blaekgnard. 
TIm Antic Nifht 

Btetnt Worlu: 

Sword and Dracoo. (Bodda- * Stoughtm). 

A FroutinaaiaiL AutoWogiaphy. {Oaj/ABaneoek). 

Cnify. (Oay d, Bancock). 

Tbe Chariot of Um Sun. {Otapman * BaU). 

The Froatieramaa'a Pocint Book. (Editad). 

{Jahn Uwrmy). 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



BY ROGER POCOCK 



LONDON 

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 

191 1 



nil 



880477 



TO PERSONS WHO HAVE NAMESAKES 
IN THIS BOOK. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Except the Fairies, who are otherwise engaged, 
and the Bear, who is no more, the characters 
appearing ,n this vclume wish me to say that their 
breaches of etiquette, homicides, &c., are all 
original sms. Their infirmities of body, so- and 
spirit are their own, not mimicry of your lot a 
caricature of your friend, your acquaintance of 
17 r::"^""" acquaintance, or'anybodryou 
have heard about, or even of some mere celebrity. 

to ou "** " """"• '' ''' '° *'"'"°" "*'"'*■ "°' 
The characters wish me to tell you that they are 

I he persons of a drama are protected by footlights 
by the suge door-keeper, not to memion gfea^ 
paint and scalps by an eminent artiste; but Z 

rude world, with many reporters about. In a page 

oSort^^TnT: ""*" '''«' f"»ht. their onf, 

altTrS^ivM """'' "^ '"^y ^''''^h '« «heir 

So Sev 'irfl ^T ^'f''-P'-««="ce of mind. 

rhi° ^ '"''' '^^ ""**«"■ assumed names 

were all dealt out to worldly, graspinrnersons 
and not one was left unclaimed.' fhrZ' 



vi FOREWORD 

department is like a cloakroom when the guests 
have departed, a train from which all passengers 
have alighted, an office on Christmas day. Can 
you blame the characters in fiction who come after 
you, if they assume the noblest names, such as 
Smith, and try to be worthy of their borrowed 
plumes? Surely you would not have them wear 
a numeral such as the number of your house, or 
telephone ? 

The chances are that they give you no o£Fence. 
Suppose that gentlemen named Jesse Smith number 
one in each million of English spteaking people, 
there would be one hundred in North America, 
half of them adults, with a moiety in wedlock, and, 
of these twenty-five, a hundredth part may be 
stockmen, of whom say one per cent, have a flaw 
in their claim to wedlock. To this residuum, the 
■0025 part of a perfect gentleman, whom he has 
not the honour to know personally, our Mr. Smith 
tenders profound apologies. 

But the Persons of the book, dear friends, who 
have filled two years of my life with happiness, are 
not only Imaginary People with assumed names, 
but they inhabit a district at variance with the 
maps, at a period not shown in earthly calendars. 
So, far aloof from the world where they might give 
offence to earthly readers, they are outside the 
bounds of space and time, and belong to that 
realm of Art where there is but one Law, whereby 
they stand or fall, must live or die — fidelity to 
Life. Your obedient servant, 

London, igii. THE AUTHOR. 



CONTENTS. 



Part I. 

CHAPTER 

I. ON THE LABRADOR 
n. THE HAPPY SHIP 

III. YOUTH 

IV. THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 
V. THE BURNING BUSH , 



PAGE 
I 

15 
29 
38 
54 



Part II. 

I. TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR 

II. THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 

III. LOVE .... 

IV. THE LANDLORD . 

V. THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 

VI. ROBBERY-UNDER-ARMS 

VII. THE ROUND-UP . 

VIII. THE STAMPEDE . 

IX. THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER 
X. BREAKING THE STATUTES . 



59 
71 
85 

94 
103 
114 
123 

131 
141 

151 



viii 



CONTENTS 





CHAPTER 

XI. THE MINX . . . _ 


PAGE 
. l6l 




XII. EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES 


■ '74 




XIII. NATIVITY . 


. i86 




XIV. THE LOCKED HOUSE . 


• «94 



Part III. 

I. SPITE HOUSE 
n. THE IMPATIENT CHAPTER 

III. RESCUE 

IV. AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 
V. THE CARGADOR . 

VI. THE BLACK NIGHT 
EPILOGUE 



205 
225 

235 
24a 

271 

283 



PART. I. 



CHAPTER I. 
ON THE LABRADOR. 

Do>jT you write anything down yet, 'cause I ain't 

If I wrote this yarn myself, I'd make it good and 
red from t.p to t.p, claws out, teeth bare, fur crawl- 
evfdence '"°"°"" '' -""»"•« be dull no, or 
^^But then it's to please you, and that's what I'm 

So I proceeds to stroke the fur smooth, lay the 
dun °J„;^"*""'"-« «'-'^ over me. Coin' to be 

rope, I d coil It down before I begun to pay out 
You lays the end, so. and flemish down riL bv 
nng unt,I the bight's coiled, smooth, rd'y tolake 
that' " d""'r ' "t^'" ' '^-hing'oncefo do jus 
ff ; wel.r "" '"^ ''^•'^"'■^ '"'"'^- '* ^>' wen 



When we kids were good. Mother she used to 
own we came of pedigree stock; but when we'!" 

*■ 1 



2 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

bad, seems we took after Father. You see 
Mother's folk was the Elect, sort of born saved. 
They allowed there'd be room in Heaven for one 
hundred and forty-four thousand just persons, 
mostly from Nova Scotia, but when they took to 
sorting the neisrhbours, they'd get exclusive. The 
Mc.Gees were all right until Aunt Jane Mc.Gee up 
and married a Venerable Archdeacon, due to burn 
sure as a Bishop. The Todds were through to 
glory, with doubts on Uncle Simon, who'd been a 
whaler captain until he found Grace and opened a 
dry goods store. Seeing he died in Grace, worth 
all of ten thousand dollars, the heirs concluded the 
Lord should act reasonable, until they found Uncle 
had left his wealth to charities. Then they put a 
text on his tomb — " For he had great possessions." 

The Mc.Andrewses has corner lots in the New 
Jerusalem, and is surely the standard of morals 
until Cousin Abner went shiftless and wrote poetry. 
They'd alius been so durned respectable too. 

Anyway Mother's folk as a tribe, is millionaires 
in Grace and pretty well fixed in Nova Scotia. 
She'd talk like a book too. You'd never suspect 
Mother, playing the harmonium in church, with a 
tuning fork to sharpen the preacher's voice, black 
boots, white socks, box pleated crinoline, touch- 
me-not frills, poke bonnet, served all round with 
scratch-the-kisser roses. Yes, I seen the daguerro- 
type, work of a converted photographer — nothing 
to pay. That's mother— full suit of sail, rated a 
hundred Ai at Lloyd's, the most in.portant sheep 
in the Lord's flock. Then she's found out, secretly 



ON THE LABRADOR 3 

married among the Goats, Her name's scratched 
out of the family Bible, with a strong hint to the 
Lord to scrat her entry from the Book of Life. 
She's married a sailorman before the mast, a Live- 
yere from the Labrador, a man without a dollar, 
suspected of being Episcopalian. Why, she'd 
been engaged to the leading grocery in Pugwash. 
Oh great is the fall thereof, and her name ain't 
alluded to no more. " The ways of the Lord," 
says she, " is surely wonderful." 

Father took her to his home, way up along It's 

twenty miles below the Post, north shore of the 

Baccalow, just at the mouth of Devil's Tickle Oh 

^ a Tickle is just a channel, and ours is named for 

j Torngak the Devil, 'cause the Eskimo god used to 

' live thar. 

In them days the Labrador ain't laid out exactly 

o su.t Mother. She's used to luxury-coal in the 

lean-to, taties in the yard, cows in the barn, barter 

store round the corner, mails, church, school, and a 

I gaol right handy, so she can enjoy the ungodly 

getting their just deserts. But in our timf the 

lanrf'i , *^* just God's country, all rocks, ice, 

land sea, '3 put the Fear into proud hearts-no need 

o preachers. A school to raise men-no need of 

dt "s Thri "'' "'' ''^ weakling^no need of 
laoctors. The Law was ' work or starve '-no place 
|for lawyers. It's police, and court, and hangman 

pll complete, fire and hail, snow and vapours,^w"nd 

E.i cinematograph theater down street to 

^.stract your attention from facts, and you'd order 



4 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

molasses by wireless, invoiced C.O.D. to Torngak, 
Lab. Can't I hear Mother's voice acrost the years, 
and the continents, as she reads the Lesson " He 
jcattereth His ice like morsels, and who is able to 
abide His frosts." 

Father's home was an overturned schooner, 
turfed in, and he was surely proud of having a 
bigger place than any other Liveyere on the coast. 
There was the hold overhead for stowing winter 
fish, and room downstairs for the family, the team 
of seven huskie dogs, and even a cord or two of 
firewood. We kids used to play at Newf'ndlanders 
up in the hold, when the winter storms were tearing 
the tops off the hills, and the Eskimo devil howled 
blue shrieks outside. The huskiep makes wolf 
songs all about the fewness of fish, and we'd hear 
Mother give Father a piece of her mind. That's 
about the first I remember, but all what Mother 
thought about poor Father took years and years 
to say. 

I used to be kinc of sorry for Father. You see 
he worked the bones through his hide, furring all 
winter and fishing summers, and what he earned 
he'd get in truck from the Company. All us Live- 
yeres owed to the Hudson's Bay, but Father 
worked hardest, and he owed most, hundreds and 
hundreds of skins. The Company trusted him. 
There wasn't a man on the coast more trusted than 
he was, with Mother to feed, and six kids, besides 
seven huskies, and father's au.it, Thessalonika, a 
widow with four children and a tumour, living 
down to Last Hope beyond the Rocks. Father's 



ON THE LABRADOR 5 

always in the wrong, and chews black plug baccy 
to keep his mouth from defending his errors. 
" B'y,' he said once, when mother went out to say 
a few words to the huskies; " I'd a kettle once as 
couldn't let out steam— went off and broke my arm. 
If yore mother ever gets silent, run, b'y, run !" 
I whispered to him " You don't mind?" 
He grinned. " It's sort of comforting outside. 
We don't know what the winds and the waves is 
saying. If they talked English, I'd-I'd turn 
pitman and hew coal, b'y, as they does down Nova 
Scotia way— where yore mother comes from." 

There was secrets about Father, and if she ever 
found out ! You see, he looked like a white man, 
curly yaller hair same as me, and he was fearful 
strong. But in his inside— don't ever tell— he was 
partly small boy same's me, and the other half of 
him-don t ever let on-was Mountaineer Injun. 
I seen his three brothers, the finest fellers you 
ever-yes Scotch half-breeds-and Mother never 
knew. Jesse," he'd whisper, "swear you'll 
never tell ? " ^ 

" S'elp me Bob." 

" It would be Hell b'y." 

"What's Hell like?" 

'• Prayers and bein' scrubbed, for ever an' ever." 
But Mother won't be there ? " 

"Why no. It hain't so bad as all that. She'll 
em Heaven making them angels respectable, 
tytcZL^r'-'- ^''^X - fi^'^ermen too! 



6 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Thar's me on Father's knee, with my nose in 
his buckskin shirt, and even to this day the wood 
smoke in camp brings back that wuff, whereas 
summers his boots smelt fishy. What happened 
first or afterwards is all mixed up. but thereCthe 
smoke smell and sister Maggie lying in the bunk, 
all white and froze. 

There's fish smell, and Polly who used to wallop 
me with a slipper, lying white and froze. And yet 
1 knew she couldn't get froze in summer. 

Then there's smoke smell, and big Tommy, 
bigger nor Father, throwing up blood. I said he'd 
^tch It from Mother for messing the floor, but 
Father just hugged me, telling me shut up. I axed 
him If Tommy was going to get froze too. Then 
Father told me that Tommy was going away to 
where the milk came -ut of a cow. You just shove 
the can opener into the cow so-and the milk pours 
out, whole candy pails of milk. Then there's great 
big bird rocks where the hens come to breed, and 
they lays fresh eggs, real fresh hen's eggs -rocks 
all white with eggs. And there's vegi tables, 
wh.ch ,s green things to eat. First time you swell 
up and pretty nigh bust, but you soon get used to 
greens. Tommy is going to Civili Zation. It's 
months and months off, and when you get there, 
the people IS so awful mean they'd let a strange 
starve to death without so much as ' Come i n ' 
rhe men wears pants right down to their heels, and 

as to the women^ . 

Mother comes in and looks at him, so he forgets 
to say about the women at Civili Zation, but ofS 



ON THE LABRADOR 7 

times he'd tell, oh lots of stories. He said it was 

worse for the likes of us than New Jerusalem. 
I reckon Tommy died, and Joan too, and Mother 

would set gaunt and dry, rocking herself. " The 

Lord gave," she'd say, "and the Lord taketh away. 

Blessed be the Name of the Lord." 
There was only Pete and me left, and Father 

wagging his pipe acrost the stove at Mother. 

" They'll die ma'am," I heard him say, and she 

just sniffed. "If I hadn't taken 'em out doors 

they'd be dead. Now ma'am." 
She called him an Injun. She called him — I 

dunno what she didn't call him. I'd been asleep, 
and when I woke up she was cooking breakfast 
while she called him a lot more things she must 

havo forgot to say. But he carried me in his arms 
out through the little low door, and it was stabbing 
cold with a blaze of northern lights. 

He tucked me up warm on the komatik, he 
hitched up the huskies, and mushed, way up the 
tickle, and through the soft bush snow, and at sun 
up we made his winter tilt on Torngak creek. We 
put in the winter there, furring, and every time he 
came home from the round of traps, he'd sell me all 
the pelts. I was the Company, so he ran up a 
heap of debt. Then he made me little small snow- 
shoes and skin clothes like his, and a real beaver 
cap with a tail. 1 was surely proud when he took 
me hunting fur and partridges. I was with him 
to the fishing, in the fall we'd hunt, all winter we'd 
trap till it was time for the sealing, and only two 
or three times in a year we'd be back to Mother. 



8 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



We d bu.Id her stand-up wigwam of firewood, so 
t wouldn't be lost in the snow, we'd tote her grub 
from the Fort, the loads of fish, and the fall salmon. 
Ihen I d see Pete too. who'd got pink, with a 
spitting cough. He wanted to play with me, but 
I wouldn't. 1 just couldn't. I hated to be any- 
wheres near him. ^ 
" Didn't I tell yez ? " Father would point at Pete 
coughing. " Didn't 1 warn yez? " 
But Mother set her mouth in a thin line. 

fete, said she, "is Saved." 
N«tt time we come, Mother was all alone. 
1 he Lord gave," she says, "and the Lord hath 
taken away Blessed be the Name of the Lord, 
but It s getting kind of monotonous." 

She hadn't much to say then, she didn't seem to 
care, but was just numb. He wrapped her up 

her Bible, and the album of photos from Nova 

arms Zu '" k '1' ''""" '^"^^ '^' '^^"'-d in her 
arms. Father broke trail ahead, I took the eee 
pole, and when day came, we made the winter tilt. 
There Mother kep' house just as she would a 

,nZ'c'°w^" ^' *^ «''"°« "^'^ 'o step 
indoors We never had such grub, but she 
wouldn't put us in the wrong, or%et up nights 
confessing Father's sins. She didn't <^re C 
more. ■' 

fILT" ^'°"^ '" ^^'^^ °^ ""^ybe April that 
mund ofT **'^ 'V°^^* ^^^'her, making the 
round of his traps. He didn't come back. There's 
been a blizzard, a wolf-howling hurricane, blow ng 



ON THE LABRADOR 9 

out a lane of bare ground round the back of th« 
cabin, while the big drift piled higher and pack-d 
harder, until the comb of it grew out above i jr 
roof like a sea breaker, froze so you could walk on 
the overhang. And just between dark i>nd duckish 
Father's huskie team came back without him. 

I don't reckon I was more'n ten eleven year old, 
but you see, this Labrador is kind of serious with 
us, and makes even kids act responsible. Go easy, 
and there's famine, freezing, black leg, all sorts of 
reasons against laziness. It sort of educates. 

Mother was worse than silent. There was .some- 
thing about her scared me more than anything out 
doors. In the morning her eyes kep' following 
me as if to say, go find your father. Surely it was 
up to me, and if I wasn't big enough to drive the 
huskies or pack father's gun, I thought I could 
manage afoot to tote his four pound axe. She 
beckoned me to her, and kissed me— just that once 
in ten years, and I was quick through the door, 
out of reach, lest she should see me miehty near 
to cryin'. * ' 

It was all very well showing off brave before 
Mother, but when I got outside, any excuse was 
enough for going back. I wished I'd left the 
matches behind, but I hadn't. I wished the snow 
would be too soft, but it was hard as sand. I 
wished I wasn': a coward, and the bush didn't look 
so wolfy, and what if I met up with the Eskimo 
Devil! Oh, I was surely the scaredest lil' boy, 
and dead certain I'd get lost. Yere's nobody to 
see if I sat down and cried under Father's lobstick, 



10 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



went on twiraiiw r . «^'"w»' inen I 

ther', trV^hf A " *»'"'"«• '"'* 'here wu 

now well I remember even now. The wav w«. 

It wasn't for love of Father Nn 1 v. , ^ 

ouch that hand, and when I d d I was s U 'I'M 

that was better than being scared To »« I ^/'." 

not so bad when you dare °""'- ''^ 

I dug, with a snowshoe for a shnv.r tu 

•h. buckskin shi„ s„..ii„; gi'rL^hr,"*" 

.--™,Ck.„vi;r,"'LXr'^«; 



ON THE LABRADOR n 

big Number 4 trap he used for wolf and beaver. 
He must have stepped without seeing it under the 
snow and it brolce his leg. Then he'd tried to 
drag himself back home. 

It was when I stood up to get breath and cool off 
that I first seen the wolf, setting peaceful, waggin' 
his tail. First I thought he was one of our own 
huskies, but when he didn't know his name I saw 
for sure he must be the wolf who lived up two mile 
crick. Wolves know they're scarce, with expensive 
pelts, so neither Father nor me had seen more'n 
this person's tracks. He'd got poor inspecting 
Father's business instead of minding his own. 
That's why he was called the Inspector. It was 
March too, the moon of famine. Of course I threw 
my axe and missed. His hungry smile's still thar 
behind a bush, and me wondering whether his 
business is with me or Father. That's why I 
stepped on the snowshoes, and went right past 
where he was, not daring to get my axe. Yes, it 
was me he wanted to see— first, but of coursi I 
wasn't going to encourage any animal into think- 
ing he'd scared a man. Why he'd scarce have let 
ither even see his tracks for fear they'd be trapped 
or shot. So I walked slow and proud, leadin' him 
off from Father— at least I played that, wishing all 
the time that Mother's lil' boy was to home. After 
a while I grabbed down a lopped stick where 
ifatherd blazed, not so fierce as an axe, but enough 
to make me more or less respected. 

Sometimes the Inspector was down wind 'spect- 
ing my smell, times he was up wind for a bird's 



12 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



watch a child' and it ^ 1 IX" {T '°''l' '^ 
man because his will ;c I ^ They're shy of 

andhisweaJnsmSe SoTh? ""'""'"^ "'^'"■ 
his kids an^»llTJ .^° '^ey respects his traps, 

white wolf is wiser'n mn« ' 't" ^^^ 'he maned 
eaJnghiscubsrL^^-Nar.sTnitT '" '"^ 
wI^rS%~' ''"^ ''"-^^' ^- - scared. 

I - brJakfast Tt wasTust"; '"'' °"^ ''"^' ^^^ 
close behind like a ZlC Zr^T'^.l::-^ ^ 
to show fight, he'd seem to , ■ ^^^^ ' '' *"^" 
go on whfsth'ng a ^mn "'°'°^"'' ^""^ '''«" I''' 

with my sick i^'a i^*^. ''"T"- B"t I thrashed 
yelped/ S heln '', "'"^ '"'^ ^"°"'' «« he 

but-business -s-bttss'.' "e^ssiof 1' K'''''''i 
ran at him, tripped on a st.fZ T " '"'"• ^ 

he lep- straighfL my throat '^' ''' °"' ^ >'«"' ^^ 

R-ed mf:™' td ' ''" "'"'^ ^ ^""^f^"'- ^ •'""« 



ON THE LABRADOR 13 

whar the bullet hurt, sort of sulky too with a 
grievance, when I was suddenly grabbed and nigh 
smothered in Mother's arms. She'd come with the 
team of huskies followin' me, she'd been gunning 
too, and I sure had a mighty close call. 

She'd no tears left for Father, so when I got 
through sobbin' we went to the body, and loaded 
It on the komatik for home. Thar's things I don't 
like to tell you. 

It wasn't a nice trip exactly, with the Inspector 
superintending around. When we got back to the 
tilt, we daresn't take out the huskies, or unload, or 
even stop for grub. We had to drive straight on. 
Mother and me, down the Tickle, past our old 
empty home, then up the Baccalieu all night. 

The sun was just clear of the ice when we made 
the Post, and we saw a little ball jerk up the flag 
halliards, then break to a great red flag with the 
letters H.B.C. It means Here Before Christ. 

The air was full of a big noise, like the skirl of 
seagulls screaming in a gale, and there was Mr. 
McTavish on the sidewalk, marching with his 
bagpipes to wake the folk out of their Sunday beds. 
He'd pants down to his heels, just as Father said, 
and fat bacon to eat every day of his life. He was 
strong as a team of bullocks, a big, bonny, red 
man, with white teeth when he turned, smiling, in 
a sudden silence of the pipes. Then he saw 
Father's body, with legs and arms stiffened all 
ways, and the number 4 trap still gripped on 
broken bones. Off came his fur cap. 
Mother stood iron hard, beside the komatik. 



»4 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 
says she, " IVe come to pay his 



" Factor,' 
debt." 

" Nay. it's the Sabbath, ma'am Yp'II „. 
debts tiJI Monday. Come ben t^^K ^^^ "° 

ye puir thing." ^" ^"'^ ^^""^ '^"'^ »««- 

she'll be raWnrid cTLr^' "''' '" ^'^'^ °^ 
God, I'll malce^Tgreet?'^ ' "'*""""' ^'^'- ^^ 

Ah-thtti-o^f r^nsiTstit; t^^^'^' -' 

that made the meat fhakV"on'my b o" f ^ '"" 

fro'with his^T he"r^ I"?, 'T' f "er, to and 
straight through her and »n .h T' ^""^ 

world in the sktl !nW?H ■ ''^ ^^nef of all the 
awful tun She co'ere, J^^^ '"*? ^ ''°P«'"=- 

trying to hold whi e thfgrt: Ss^h' !!';; ''^"'^^' 
she reeled like a tr«. in » „ . ^''^ shook her, and 

knees, until s^: tew £!} T hf ^^" °" ''^^ 
cried, and cried. ""^ '=°''P*«' and 



CHAPTER II. 



THE HAPPY SHIP. 

Cap' Mose of the Zedekiah W. Baggs 'e was a 
Sunday Christian. All up along 'e'd wear a silk 
hat, the only one on the Labrador. Yes. Sundays 
he'd be ashore talkin' predestination an' grace out 
of a book 'e kep' in 'is berth, but never a word 
about fish or the state of the ice. Mother'd been 
raised to a belief in Christians, so when Mose 
dropped in at her shack, admirin' how she cooked, 
she'd be pleased all up the back, and have him 
right in to dinner. He'd kiss me, talkin' soft about 
httle children. Yes. That's how 'e got me away 
to sea as boy on a sealin' voyage, without paying 
me any wages. 

Mother never knew what Cap'n Mose was like on 
weekdays, and Sunday didn't happen aboard of 
the Zedekiah. I remember hidin' away at the back 
of Ole Oleson's bunk axing God to please turn me 
mto an animal. Any sort would do, because I seen 
men kind to animals. You know an animal mostly 
consists of a pure heart, and four legs, which is a 
great advantage. Queer world though, if all our 
prayers was granted. 

Belay thar. A man sets out to tell adventures, 
and if his victims don't find some excuse for getting 
IS 



i6 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



absent, he owes them all the happiness he's got. 
Its mean to hand out sorrow to persons bearing 
therr full share already. So we proceeds to the 
night when I ran from the Zedekiah, and joined 
the happy ship. ' 

We lay in the big ice pack off Cape Breton, 
getting a load of seal pehs. All hands was out on 
the ice while daylight lasted, clubbing seals, 
gathering the carcases into pans, skulping then 
towing the hides aboard to salt 'em down. 

We got our supper, then turned in bone weary, 
but the ship groaned so that I daresn't sleep. \ 
ship am t got no mouth to give her age away, and 
yet with ships and women it's pretty much .he 
same, for the younger they are the less they need 
to be pa,nted The Zedekiah was old, just paint 
an punk, and she did surely groan to the thrust of 
the pack. I was too scared to sleep, so I went up 
on deck. '^ 

I'd alius watched for a chance to run away, and 
thar was Jim. the anchor watch, squatting on the 
bitts dead asleep. He used to be t.at w!y when 
nobody chased him. ' 

I daresn't make for the coast. You see I'd heard 
tell of niggers ashore which eat boys who run away. 
But I seen the lights of the three masted schooner 

IT^t, v7f^ '° w-ndward. I grabbed a sealing 
gaff and slid down on to the ice. 

First as the pans rocked under me I was siary. 
next I warmed up, gettin' venturesome, until I 
came near sliding into the wet, and after that I'd 
look before I lep'. There'd been a tops'l breeze 



I 



THE HAPPY SHIP ,7 

from the norrard, blowin' up since nightfall to a 
hurricane, and then it blew some more, until I 
couldn't pole-jump for fear of being blowed away. 
With any other ship, I'd have wished myself back 
on board. 

You know how the grinding piles an edge around 
each pan, of broken splinters? That edge shone 
white agin the black of the water, all the guide I 
had. But times the squalls of wind was like 
scythes edges with sleet, so I was blinded, waiting, 
freezmg until a lull came, and I'd get on. It was 
broad day, and I reckon each step weighed a ton 
before I made that schooner. 

A grey man, fat, with a chin whisker, lifted me 
m overs.de. " Come far? " says he, and I turned 
round to show him the Zedekiah. She wasn't 
there. She was gone— foundered. 

So that's how I came aboard of the Happy Ship, 
just hke a lil' lost dog, with no room in my skfri 
for more n bones and famine. Capt. Smith used 
to^y he d signed me on as family ghost; but he 
paid me honest wages, fed me honest grub, while 
as to clothes and bed, I was snug as a ifttle rabbit! 

t.on with his belt, sums, hand, reef, and steer 

rule of the Road, soojie moojie, psalms of David 
constitution of the United Sti,es,'^and pi ying^h^ 
rombone, with three pills and a gooa licking 
regular Saturday nights. Mother's little boy begun 
to set up and take notice. ^ 

Them five years in the Pawtucket all along, from 



i8 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Montreal to Colon, from banjos r)lunking in them 
portales of Vera Cruz, to bugles crying Revally in 
Quebec, and the oyster boats asleep by old Point 
Comfort, and the Gloucester Fleet a-storming home 
past Sable, and dagos basking on Havana quays. 
Suck oranges in the dinghy under the moonlight, 
waiting to help the Old Man aboard when he's 
drunk; watch the niggers humping cotton into a 
tramp at Norfolk; feel the tide-rip snoring up past 
Tantramar; reef home trysMs when she's coming 
on to blow, with the Keys to lee'ard; can't I just 
feel the old Pawnticket ramping home to be in 
time for Christmas. 

Did you hear tell that the Sea has Feelings— the 
cryin', the laugh, dumb sorrow, blazin' wrath, the 
peace, the weariness, the mother-kindness, the hush 
like prayers of something which ain't brute, or 
human, but more'n human, so grand and awful you 
hardly dare to breathe. 

Words, only words which don't fit, the misfits 
which make fun of serious thoughts. We men is 
dumb beasts which can't say what we mean, 
whereas I've alius reckoned persons like cats and 
wolves don't feel so much emotion as they exudes 
in song. 

Seafaring men is sea-wise, sea-kind, only land- 
foolish, for there's things no sailorman knows Jiow 
to say, things even landsmen can't figure out in 
dollars. 

Seems I'm a point off my course? I'm only 
saying things the Captain said, times on a serious 
night when we'd be up some creek for fish, or layin' 



THE HAPPY SHIP 19 

low for ducks. If ever he went ashore without me, 
I'd be like a lost dog, and he drunk before the sun 
was over the yard arm. But away together it 
wasn't master and boy, but just father and son. 
He'd even named me after himself, and that's why 
my name's Smith. 

I disremember which port— somewheres up the 
St. Lawrence where we loaded lumber for the Gulf 
o' Mexico, but the Captain and me was away 
fishing. Mother had come from the Labrador to 
find me, old grey Mother. They dumped her seal 
hide trunk on our wharf, so one of the china dogs 
inside got split from nose to tail ; but Mother just 
sat on a bollard, and didn't give a damn. She put 
on her round horn spectacles to smile at 'he mate 
forrard, and the second mate aft, the or'nary sea- 
man in his bos'n's chair a-tarring down the rigging, 
the two men slung aft painting in the nameboard 
and the bumboat laundress who'd been tearing the 
Old Man's shirt-fronts. Yes, she'd a smile for every 
man jack that seemed to warm their hearts, but nary 
a word to interfere with work, for she just sat happy 
at the sight of the Pawnticket, and she surely 
admired everything, from Old Glory to Blue Peter 
—until our nigger cook came and spilled slops 
overside. Seems he'd had news of the lady, and 
came to grin, but he was back in his galley, like a 
rabbit to his burrow, while she marched up the 
gangway. " Can't abide dirt," says Mother, and 
even the new boy heard not a word else 'cept the 
splash. For Mother just escorted that nigger right 
through the galley, out at the other end? over the 



30 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



port rail, and boosted him into the blue harbour, 
for the first and only bath he'd ever had. Then she 
took off her horn spectacles, her old buckskin 
gloves, and her bonnet, and sot to cleaning a galley 
which hadn't been washed since the days of Presi- 
dent Lincoln. Floor, range, walls, beams, pots, 
kettles, plates and dishes, she washed and scrubbed 
and polished. She hadn't time to listen to the wet 
nigger or the mate, and nary a man on board could 
get more than yea or nay out of Mother. She 
cooked them a supper too good to be eaten and 
spoilt, then set the dishes to rights, got the lamp 
a-shining, and axed to be shown round the ship. 
You should have seen the idlers aft and the boys 
forrard, redding up as if all their mothers was 
expected. As to the nigger, the fellers made a 
habit of pitching him overboard until he got tired 
of coming. 

The Cap'n and me comes back along with the 
dinghy, makes fast, and climbs aboard. There's 
old grey Mother, with the horn specs, calm in her 
own kitchen, just tellin' us to set right down to 
supper. Cap'n lives aft, and I belongs up forrard, 
being ordinary seaman, and hss important aboard 
than the Old Man's pig. Yet somehow Mother 
knew, feeding us both in the galley, and standing 
by while we fed. Never a word, but Mother had a 
light for Captain Smith's cigar, and her eyes look- 
ing hungry at me for fear she'd be sent ashore. 

" Well ma'am," says the Captain, " sent your 
baggage aft? Oh we'll soon get your baggage 
aboard." 



THE HAPPY SHIP ai 

Then I heard him on deck seeing Mother's 
dunnage into the spare berth aft, and the nigger's 
turkey thrown out on to the wharf. 

Sort of strange to me remembering Mother, 
gaunt, bitter-hard, always in the right, with lots to 
say. And here was little Mother sobbing her heart 
out on the breast of my jersey. Just the same 
Mother changed. Said she was fed up with the 
Labrador, coming away to see the world, meet 
folks, and have a good time ; but would I be shamed 
of having her with me at sea ? Surely that had 
been old Mother back there in the long ago time, 
and it was young Mother laughing just because 
she'd cried. 

Shamed? All the ways down from Joe Beef's 
clear to Rimouski you'll hear that yarn to-day, of 
how the old sea custom of winning a berth in fair 
fight was practised by a lady, aboard of the Pawn- 
ticket. 

You've heard of ship's husbands, but we'd the 
rirst ship's mother. And the way she crep' in was 
surely insidious. Good word that. Let her draw 
stores, you find she's steward and purser, just 
surely poison to the chandlers. Oh, she'll see to 
the washing, and before jou can turn around, she's 
nurse and doctor. She's got to be Queen, and the 
schooner's a sea palace, when we suddenly dis- 
covers she only signed as cook. 

Now we're asleep at eleven knots on a beam wind, 
and Key West wide on the starboard bow, the same 
bemg in the second dog watch when I'm invited 
aft. There's the Old Man setting in the Captain's 



la 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



place, there's Mother at the head of the table 
sewing, and she asks me to sit in the mate's seat 
as if I was chief officer instead of master's dog. 

" Son," says she — queer little soft chuckle, 
" Son. You'll never guess." 

I'm sort of sulky at having riddles put. 

Then the Old Man gets red to the gills, giggling. 
He slaps hisself on his fat knee and wriggles. Then 
he up and kisses Mother with a big smack right on 
the lips. 

" Can't guess? " says Mother. 

" I'm the Old Man," he giggles, " she's the Old 
Woman." Then he reached out his paw. " Put 
here there Son I " says he, " what's yer name 
boy?" 

He'd a hand like a bear trap. " Smith I " I 
squealed. " Smith I " 

" Fact," says he. " Fill yourself a goblet of 
that 'ere sherry wine, with some sugar. Drink, you 
cub, to Captain and Mrs. Smith. Now off with ye, 
and pass the bottle forrard." 

There's me chuck-a-block with shyness, splutter- 
ing wine, dumb as a fish 'cause I've only one mouth 
to my face; then I'm to the foc'sle, tellin' the boys 
there's mutiny on the high seas with the cook 
commanding, and we're flying the Aurora borealis 
for a flag, till v/e load a cargo of stars, and clears 
for Paradise. 

Next day, or next week, or maybe the Monday 
following, the ship's got a headache, with the sky 



THE HAPPY SHIP 



»3 






sitting down on the mastheads, the sea like oil, the 
sheets slapping the shadows on the deck, where the 
tar boils, and our feet is like overdone toast. 

We sailors is off our feed, and Pierre Legrandeur 
telling his beads till they get pitched overboard for 
luck. Old Man's in a stinking temper, Mother 
abed with sick headache, mate like a wounded seal, 
the second has a touch of the sun, and Bo's'n got 
a water-pup on his neck. We stows every stitch 
of canvas, sets a storm stays'l reefed to the size of 
a towel, everything on deck's lashed solid, and the 
glass is lookin' sicker'n ever. Then Dad says we'd 
best take precautions, so he tries to house the top- 
masts, and sends down for a drum of oil. 

The sky's like copper, edged with sheet light- 
ning, then there's scud in a hurry overhead, the 
horizon folding in, and a funnel-shaped cloud to 
the south-ard wrapping up the sky. There's no 
air, and I noticed the binnacle alight, so it must 
have been dark under that funnel cloud. Just 
as it struck, some one called out "All aboard ! " 
and I heard the mate yell, " You mean, all over- 
board I " 

Couldn't see much at first, as I was busy getting 
Mother out of the drowned cabin. When I'd 
passed a halliard round her and the stump of the 
mizzen, I'd just breathing time. The sea was 
flattened, white under black sky, and what was left 
of us was mostly blowing about. I felt sorry for 
Pierre— gone after his rosary beads, and Mick too 
—he'd owed me a dollar. I missed the masts some. 



H JESSE OF CARIBOO 

and the bowsprit. Galley gone too, and the good 
old dinghy staved to kindlings. The ship's cat 
was mewing around with no curling-up corner left. 
Dad was just taking command again of what 
remained. No use shouting either, so he hung on 
and beckoned. The masts overside were battering 
holes in us, until we cut adrift. Then to the pumps, 
but that was sort of ex-ofjicio just to keep us warm. 
Working's warmer than waiting. 

Being timber laden we couldn't sink, which was 
convenient. But, as Mother said, there wasn't any 
grub on the roof, and we couldn't go downstairs. 
For instance, we wanted a drink of water. 

Well now we been three days refreshing our 
parched mouths with beer stories, when a fishing 
vessel comes along smelling salvage. Happens 
he's one of them felucha rigged Dago swine out of 
Invicta, Texas. Daresn't tow a hairbrush across 
a vash pail for fear of getting fouled in his own 
hawser. But he's a champion artist at gesticula- 
tions, so he'd like to get his picture in the papers 
for rescuing shipwrecked mariners. His charges 
was quite moderate too for a breaker of water and 
some fancy grub — until we seen the bill. 

I never knew till then that our Old Man was 
owner. Of course that's all right, only he'd run 
astern with his insurance. That's why he'd stay 
with the ship, so it's no good talking. As to 
Mother, she come aboard the feluchy, ship's cat in 
her arms, and a sort of cold dumb going-to-be- 
good-and-it's-killin'-me sort of smile. She bore up 
brave until she struck the No. i smell in the Dago's 



THE HAPPY SHIP 



as 



I 



cabin. " It's too much," she says, handing me the 
cat, " too much. I'm goin' back to drown clean." 

She Icissed me, and went bacic aboard the wreclc. 

But I was to stay with our sailors aboard the 
Dago, to fetch Invicta quicic, and bring a tug. 
Dad trusted me, even to play the cuward and quit 
him. I dread to thinic back on that passage of four 
days to the port of Invicta. 

Now in them days I was fifteen, and considered 
homely. The mouth I got would be large for a 
dog, smile — six and three-quarters. Thar ashore 
at Invicta, I'd still look sort of cheerful, so all them 
tug skippers took me for a joke. It was four days 
and three nights since I'd slept, so I suppose I'd 
look funny wanting to hire a tug. 

I showed power of attorney, wrote in indelible 
pencil on Dad's old dicky cravat, but the tugs 
expected cash, and the agents went back on me. 

There was our sailors playing shipwrecked 
heroes, which is invited to take refreshments, and 
^••11 how brave they'd been, raising the quotations 
on tugs up to ten thousand dollars. Better have a 
whiskey, to lessen that smile before it takes cramp, 
they'd say. And Mother's voice seems to call out 
of the air. 

Nothin' doing Saturday nights at the office, tug 
crews all ashore, but the Port will get a move on 
Monday. Trust grown men to know more'n a 
mere boy. Keep a stiff upper lip, cheer up and 
have a drink. The glass is down, the gulls is 
flying inland, thar's weather brewing. I seen in 
my mind the sprays lash over the wreck. 

It was dark when I went to the wharves with 



36 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Captain McGaw to see the Pluribus Unum. He'd 
show me a tug cheap at ten thousand cash— stores 
all complete, steam up, engineer on the premises, 
though he'd stepped ashore for a drink. Cute 
cabin he'd got on the bridge, cunning little glory 
hole forrard. Why everything was real handy, so 
that I only had to bat him behind the ear with a 
belaying pin, and he dropped right down the fore 
hatch. All I wanted now was a navigating orficer 
I could trust. 

Which brings me to Mr. McMillan, our own 
second mate, buying a dozen fried oysters in a card 
box with a wire handle, all for twenty-five cents, 
though the girl seemed expecting a kiss. 

" Hello Frankie," says I, slapping him on the 
back. A foremast hand can make his officer act 
real dignified with less. " Say, Mac. D'ye know 
what Greed done?" I grabbed his oysters. 
" Greed he choke puppy," says I, and in my mind 
I seen the gulls wheel round the wreck, where 
something's lying huddled. " Come on, Puppy I" 
says I, waving Frankie down street with them 
oysters, so all the traffic pauses to admire, and our 
second officer is running good. More things I 
said, escorting him maybe a mile aboard of the 
Pluribux Unum. And there I ate them oysters 
while he was being coarse and rude, but all the 
time I seen the wreck heave sick and sodden on the 
swell of the Gulf, the circling gulls, and how they 
dove down, pecking at a huddle of torn clothes 
beside the wheel. 

Up thar on the tug's masthead I was owning to 



THE HAPPY SiW 



a? 



being in the wrong, while Franki Aiac was p "omis- 
ing faithful to tear my hide off over ni_, tars when 
I'm caught. 

" Please Sir," says I, " it ain't so much the 
oysters worries me. It's thishyer Cap'n McGaw 
I done embezzled. Cayn't call it kidnapped 'cause 
he's over sixty, but I stunned him illegal with a 
belaying pin, and I hears him groaning — times 
when you stops to pant." 

But Frankie Mac wouldn't believe one word until 
he went down in the fore peak to enquire, while I 
applied the hatch, and battened down. 

So you see I'd got a tug, and the crew aboard, 
so the next thing was to take in the hawsers, shove 
off, and let her drift on the ebb. 

It's a caution to see how many taps and things 
besets an engine room, all of 'em heaps efficient. 
The first thing I handled proved up plenty steam, 
for my left arm was pink and blisters for a week. 
Next I found a tap called bilge valve injection, 
which lets in the sea when you wants to sink the 
ship. I turned him full, and went to sit on the 
fore hatch while I sucked my arm, and had a chat 
with the crew. 

They was talkative, and battering at the hatch 
with an axe, so I'd hardly a word in edgeways. 
Then they got scared we'd blow up before we 
drowned. Alius in my mind I'd see them gulls 
squawkin' around the wreck, and Mother fighting 
them. That heaped thing by the wheel was Dad, 
for I seen the whites of his eyes as the ship lurched 
him. An' the gulls . 



38 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Cap'n McGaw was pleadin' with me, then Mr. 
McMillan. They swore they'd take me to the 
wreck for nothin', they'd give their Bible oath, 
they'd sign agreements. McGaw had a wife and 
family ashore. McMillan was in love. 

I turned off the bilge valve injection, opened the 
fore hatch, and set them two to work. They was 
quite tame, and that night I slept— only to wake up 
screechin' at the things I seen in dreams. 

Seven days we searched for the wreck before we 
gave up and quit, at least the captains did. Then 
night come down black overhead, with the swell all 
phosphorescent. I alius think of Mother in a light 
sea under a black sky, like it was that night, when 
our tug run into the wreck by accident. 

I jumped first on board. The poor hulk lay 
flush with the swell, lifting and falling just enough 
to roll the thin green water, all bright specks, across 
and across the deck. Mother was there, her bare 
arm reaching out, her left hand lifting her skirt, 
her face looking up, dreaming as she turned, and 
turned, and swayed, in a slow dance. It's what 
they calls a waltz, and seems, as I stood watching, 
I'd almost see the music swaying her as she wove 
circles— water of stars pouring over her bare feet. 
Seems though the music stopped, and she came 
straight to me. Speaks like a lil' small girl. "Oh 
Mummy," she says, "look," and draws her hands 
apart so, just as if she was showing a long ribbon, 
"watered silk," she mutters, "only nine cents a 
yard. Oh mayn't I, mayn't I, Mummy? " 

And there was Dad, with all that water of stars 
washing across and across him. 



CHAPTER III. 



YOUTH. 

A DOG sets down in his skin, tail handy for wag- 
ging— all his possessions right thar. 

Same with me, setting on the beach, with a cap, 
jersey, overalls, sea boots, paper bag of peanuts, 
beached wreck of the old Pawnticket in front, and 
them two graves astern. Got more'n a dog has to 
think about, more to remember, nothin' to wag. 
Two days I been there, and the peanuts is getting 
few. Little grey Mother, Dad, the Happy Ship, 
just dead, that's all, dead. The tide makes and 
ebbs, the wind comes and goes, there's days, nights 
and the little waves beating time— time— time, just 
as if they cared, which they don't. 

I didn't hear the two horses come, but there's a 
young person behind me sort of attracting atten- 
tion. When he moves there's a tinkle of iron, 
creaking leather, horsey smell too, and presently 
he sets down along of me, cross-legged. I shoved 
him the peanuts, but he lit a cigarette, offering me 
one. Though he wasn't, he just felt same as a 
seafaring man, so I didn't mind him being there. 

■' The Ocean," says he, " is it alius like that? " 

" 'Cept when there's weather." 

" That's a ship ? " 

29 



i 



30 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Was." 
" Dead? " 
" Dead." 

He wanted to look at my sheath knife, and when 
I handed it he seen the lettering " Green River " 
on the blade. He'd been along Green River, and 
there's nc knives like that. 

Then I'd got to know about them iron things on 
his heels— spurs. We threw peanuts, my knife 
agin his spurs, and he won easy. Queer how all 
the time he's wanting to show himself oflf. He'd 
never seen salt water. The shipping, making the 
port, or clearing, foreign or coastwise, the Hell- 
afloat Yank, the Skowegian Coffin, the family 
packet, liner, tramp, lisher, lumberman, Geordie 
and Greaser was all the same to him. " Sounds 
like Injun languages," says he, " can't you talk 
white?" So we went in swimming, and after- 
wards there's a lunch he'c' got with him-quart of 
pickled onions, and cigarettes. Seems it's the 
vacuum in under, which makes hearts feel so heavy 
This stranger begins to throw me horse talk, and 
cow stories. It seems cow punchers is sort of 
sailors of the plains, only its different. Seafaring 
men gets wet and cold, and wrecked, but cowboys 
has adventures instead, excitement, red streaks of 
Life. Following the sea, I been missing Life. 
Why this guy ain't more'n two years older'n me- 
say, seventeen, but he's had five years ridin' for one 
man, four years for another, six years in Arizona, 
then three in Oregon, until he's added up about 
half a century. He's more worldly too than me- 



YOUTH 



31 



been in a train on the railroad. I'm surely humbled 
by 4 p.m., and if he keeps goin', by four bells I'll 
be young enough to set in Mother's lap. 

Says his name's Bull Durham. Surely I seen 
that name on lil' sacks of tobacco. Bull owns up 
this baccy's named after his father. And surely 
his old man must be pretty well fixed. " That's 
so," says Bull, blushing to show he's modest. "Ye 
see, kid, the old man's a Bishop. Yes, Bishop of 
Durham of course. Lives over to London, Eng- 
land. Got a palace thar, and a pew in the House 
of Lords. I'll be a Lord when he quits. I'm the 
Honourable Bull by rights, although I hate to have 
the boys in camp know that— make 'em feel real 
mean when all of 'em rides as well as me, or 
almost, and some can rope even better." 
''And you is the young of a real Lord ! " 
" Sure. I'll have to be Bishop too when I comes 
into the property. I'm a sort of Vice-Bishop 
sonny. D'ye see these yere gloves. They got a 
stnng to tie 'em at the back, 'cause I been Inducted. 
I got an Entail I'll show you in camp, and a pair 
of Hereditaments." 

" Y'ce-Bishop," says I, "is that like Bos'n's 
mate? I never hear tell of a Bishop's mate." 

'■ He mates in two moves," says Bull, "Baptism 
and Conflamation." 

" But," says I, so he just shuts me up, saying 
I may be ignorant, but that ain't no excuse for 
bemg untruthful. 

Well, his talk made me small and mean as a 
starved cat, but that was nothing to the emotions 



32 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



at the other end of me when he got me on one of 
them horses. I wanted to walk. Walk! The 
most shameful things he knew was walking and 
telling lies. If I walked he'd have nothing more 
to do with me. I rode till we got to the ferry. 

You know in books how there's a line of stars 
acrost the page to show the Author's grief. Aste- 
risks, eh ? I got 'em bad by the time we rode into 
Invicta City. Draw the line right than — 



We're having supper at the Palladium, and I'm 
pretty nigh scared. The goblets is all full of pink 
and white serviettes, folded up into fancy designs, 
which come undone if you touched. There's a 
menu to say what's coming, in French so you don't 
know what you're eating, and durned if I can find 
out whether to tackle an a la mode with fingers or a 
spoon. Bull says it's only French for puckeroo a 
sort of four-legged burrowing bird which inhabits 
silver mines, but if I don't like that, the lady will 
fetch me a foe par. Well, I orders one, and by the 
lady's face I see I done wrong, even before she 
complains to the manager. I'm surely miserable 
to think I've insulted a lady. 

The manager's suspicious of me, but Bull talks 
French so rapid that even Froggy can't keep up, 
although he smiles and shrugs, and gives us sane 
fraws to drink. * 

This sort of cocktail I had, was the first liquor 
I d ever tasted. It's powerful as a harbour tug, 
dropping me out of the conversation, while the 



YOUTH ^ 

restaurant turns slowly round with a list to star- 
board, and Bull deals for a basket in the front 
window full of decorated eggs. Says ihev^re 
vintage eggs all verd antique and bolkay Vo" 
years the m.lhonaires of Invicta has shrunk from 
he expense My job when we leaves is to carry 
Lddle ' """ ^""'^ ''^''"^ ^ second-haS 
Bull lets me have cocktails to keep me from 
getting confused on the night of my Day Boo i 
know I behaves with 'strordinary dignity and 
wants more cocktails. " sn'iy. ana 

I dunno why Bull has to introduce me to the 
gentleman who keeps the peanut store down strw! 
-seemg I'd dealt there before. Anyway S 

of Wo"'"* '?u^^'^'' J""^^' ^"d I'"* the Mark" 
of Worms-the same being a nom de plume. We 

lM:tn6 ^"^'^ "°"^^' *="""'^ '^ through: 
Shiw ^"f"^' ^"'^ """^^ « dossing r5,m. 
Affable Jones dresses up as a Monk, Bull Durham 

an'dTm t,?h"^n' T ^.'^"''^ ^ ^ Vice-Bishop 
and I m to be a chicken, 'cause I'm dealing vintage 
eggs .„ the Cotillon. All the same, I'm left t^efe 
alone for hours, and it's only when they comes back 

chicken*^'v'!,''^' '■" '=°"^«"' '° dres^singTp as a 
ch.cken-wh,ch in passing out through that lir 
wmdow IS some crowded. We proceeds up stree 
me toting eggs, and practising chicken "a^k ^d 
seems the general public is surprised. 

S,o we comes to the Masonic Hall, which is all 
■ghs a„d b d, and fashionable p;rrons HggeS 
out m fancy dress, dancing the Horse Doovef I 



34 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



got the name from Bull, who says that the next 
turn is my Day Boo in the Omlet Cotillion. Seems 
it's all arranged too. Affable Jones lines up the 
ladies on the left, the dudes on the right, all the 
length of the hall. Bull marches up the middle, 
spurs trailin' behind him, and there's me dressed 
as a chicken, with a basket of eggs, wondering 
whether this here cowboy is two persons I see, or 
only the one I can hear. Band's playing soft, 
Affable serves out tin spoons to the dudes, and I 
deals each a decorated egg, laying it careful in the 
bowl of the spoon, till there's only a few left over, 
and I'm safe along with Bull. 

So far everybody seems pleased. Bull whispers 
in my ear, " Make for the back door, you son of 
a sea cook," which offends one, being true; waves 
an egg at the band for silence, and calls out "Ladies 
and Gents." From the back door I seen how all 
the dudes has to stand dead still for fear of dropping 
an egg. 

Ladies," says Bull, " has any of you seen a 
live mouse? On the way up among you, seems 
I've dropped my mouse, and it's climbing skirts 
for solitude." 

Then there's shrieks, screams, ladies throwing 
themselves into the arms of them dudes, eggs 
dropping squash, eggs going bang. Bull throwing 
eggs at every man not otherwise engaged, and such 
a stink that all the lights goes out. I'm grabbed 
by the scruff of the chicken, run out through the 
back door, and slung on the back of a horse. 
Bull's yelling " Git a move on I Ride 1 Ride I " 



YOtJTH 33 

"t''l^°WJ^^ ^°'''' *'"> J^" q"i '. he's yelling 
at me. ' Ride, or we'll be lynched ! " 

My mouth's full of feathers, chicken's coming all 
to p.eces-can-t ridc-daresn't iall off. go on the 
whole I dug the chicken's spurs into Mr. Hor« 
and rode hke a hurricane in a panic. All ;f" h'Th 
remtnds me that the hinder parts of an imiralb„ 

the,2 ''""'"'""fi^ *har she bumps. Still, draw 
them stars across. 

• 

and"l„w;rcir T? '""'^ ■""" ^^'^^^ "^ 
anu invicta i.ity. The sun transp res over the 

eastern skyHne. the horses is taking a ro^T. I'm 

seated on the remnants of the chicken! Ind BuU 

Durham says I'm his adopted orphan. -• Jo" 

rode, says he, " like a pudding on a skewer 

you've JO ted yo' tail through yo'^^hat. you S 

l.ke a half skinned fool-hen.^nd you'^eTorn^at 

Yet'on th' ' rrV'" ^"^ -"-' om ear to ar 
UD a„VS ". '^"^ proceedings is cheering you 
up, ana that's more coming " » J- " 

proc'^Si''^"' '' f""'^" "" '^' '"e first night's 
proceedmgs was calm. Thar was the fat Gennan 

XgoT^Sed ';: rer:^^^ ""^'^ '-' *"' "'^ 
Thar was the funeral obsequies of a pie late 

Then we was an apparition of angels at a Revival 



36 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Yes, when I looks back on them Radium Nights 
entertainments along with Bull Durham, I see now 
what a success they was in learning me to ride. 
" What you need," says he, " is confidence. Got 
to forget mere matters of habeas corpus, and how 
your toes point, and whether you're looking pretty. 
Just trust yo' horse to pull through, so that you 
ain't caught in the flower of youthful innocence, 
and hung on the nearest telegraph pole. You still 
needs eclair as the French say, and you got no ung 
botug pomt, but your horse de combat is feeling 
encouraged to pack you seventy miles last night, 
and we'll be in camp by s'lndown." 

Once I been to a thea'er, I'.d seen a play. Thar's 
act one, with fifteen minutes hoping for act two. 
Thar's act after act till you just has to fill up the 
times between with Injun war whoops, until act 
five, when all the ladies and gents is shot or 
married. It just cay n't go on. So the aujience 
says ' let's go'n have a drink,' and the band goes 
off for a drink, and the lady with the programmes 
tells you to get to Hell out of that. 

It's all over. The millionaire Lord Bishop of 
Durham is only Bull's father-in-law. Bull's not 
exactly a cowboy yet— but assists his mother, Mrs. 
Brooke, who is chef at a ranche. It's not exactly a 
stock ranche, but they raise fine pedigree hogs. 
Bull won't be quite popular with his mother for 
having gorgeous celebrations with the hundred 
dollars she'd give him to pay off a little debt. I'd 
better not come to the ranche after leading 
Mummie's boy astray from the pailis of virtue. 



YOUTH 



37 



No, I cayn't set a saddle without giving the horse 
hysterics, and as for turning cowboy, what's the 
matter with my taking a job as a Colonel? I'd 
best climb off that mare, and hunt a job afoot. So 
long Jesse. 

There's the dust of Bull's horses way off along 
the road, and me settin' down by the wayside. A 
dog sets down in his skin, tail handy for wagging, 
all his possessions around him. I ain't even pot 
no tail. * 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE. 

The Labrador was good to me, the sea was better, 
the stock range— wall, I'd four years punching 
cows, and I'm most surely grateful. Thar's plenty 
trades outside my scope of life, and thar's ages and 
ages past which must have been plenty enjoyable 
for a working man. Thar's ages to come I'd like 
to sample too. But so far as I seen, up to whar 
grass meets sky, this trade of punching cows 
appeals to me most plentiful. In every other voca- 
tion the job's just work, but all a cowboy's paid for 
is forms of joy — to ride, to rope, to cut out, to 
shoot, to study tracks an' sign, read brands, learn 
cow. A bucking horse, a range fire, a gunfight, a 
stampede, is maybe acquired tastes, for I've known 
good men act bashful. There's drawbacks also— 
I'd never set up thirst or sandstorms, as being 
arranged to please, or claim to cheerfulness with a 
lame horse, or in sheeped range, no. But then you 
don't know you're happy till you been miserable, 
and you'd hate the sun himself if he never set. 

I ain't proposin' to unfold a lot of adventures, 
the same being mostly things I'd rather'd happened 
to someone else. An adventure comes along, an' 
it's "How d'ye do?" It's done gone, and 
"Adios!" 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 



39 



I was nigh killed in all the usual ways. 

The sun would find us mounted, scattering for 
cattle; he'd set, leaving us in the saddle with a 
night herd still to ride. Hard fed, worked plenty, 
all outdoors to live in, and Boneweary don't ax 
" whar's my pillow?" No. The sun shines 
through us, and if it's cold we'll shiver till we 
sweat. The rains, the northers — oh, it was all so 
natural. Living with Nature makes men natural. 

We didn't speak much — Pride ain't talkative. 
Riding or fighting we gave the Foreman every 
ounce we'd got, and more when needed. Persons 
would come among us, mean, dirty, tough, or 
scared, sized up before they dismounted, apt to 
move on too. Them that stayed was brothers, and 
all our possessions usual belonged to the guy who 
kep' the woodenest face at poker. 

The world in them days was peopled with only 
two species, puncher an' tenderfoot, the last bein' 
made by mistake. Moreover we cowboys belonged 
to two sects, Our Outfit, and others of no account. 
And in our Outfit, this Jesse person which is me, 
laid claims on being best man, having a pair of 
gold mounted spurs won at cyards from Pieface, 
our old foreman. I'd a rolled cantle double-rig 
Cheyenne of carved leather, and silver horn — a 
dandy saddle that, first prize for ' rope and tie 
down' agin all comers. 

Gun, belt, quirt, bridle, hat, gloves, everything, 
my whole kit was silver mounted and everything 
in it a trophy of trading, poker, or fighting. 
Besides my string of ponies I'd Tiger, an entire 



i 



40 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



black colt I'd broke— though I own he was far from 
convinced. Add a good pay-day in ray off hind 
pocket, and d'ye think I'd own up to them Twelve 
Apostles for uncles? D'ye know what Glory is? 
Wall, I suppose it mostly consists of being 
young. 

In these days now, I've no youth left to boast of, 
but it's sweet to look back, to remember Sailor 
Jesse at nineteen, ^ix foot one and filling out, full 
of original sin, and'nothin' copied, feelin' small too 
for so much cubic contents of health, of growin' 
power, and bubbling fun. Solemn as a prairie 
Injun too, knowing I was all comic inside, and 
mighty shy of being found out for the three year 
kid I was. 

Lookin' back it seems to me that all them vanities 
was only part of living natural, being natural. I 
seen cock birds playing up much the same to the 
hen birds— which made believe most solemn they 
wasn't pleased. 

Time I speak of our Outfit had turned over three 
thousand head of longhorns to the Circle S 
and rode right into Abilene. Thar we was 
to take the train for our home ranche down 
south, and I hoped to git back to my dog pup 
Rockyfeller. In my bunk at the rampasture too, 
there was a china dog, split from nose to tip, but 
repaired. Yes, I keened for home. And yet I'd 
never before been on a railroad, and dreaded the 
boys would find out how scared I was of trains. 

A sailor man feels queer, steppin' ashore on to 
streets which seem to heave, although you know 







THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 41 

they don't— yes, that's what a puncher feels too 
ahghting in a town. Gives you a sort of bow- 
legged waddle, and spurs on a sidewalli trail a lot 
too loud. I lit in Abilene with a blush, and just 
stood rooted while a guy selling gold watches reads 
my name graved 01. the saddle, and then addresses 
me as Mister Smith. Old Pieface, scared for my 
morals, did kick this person sudden and severe, but 
all the same that Mister went to my head. 

The smell of indoors made my stomach flop right 
over while we ranged up brave at the bar for a first 
drink. The raw rye felt like flames, though the 
preserved cherry afloat in it tasted familiar, like 
soap. At the same time the sight of a gambling 
lay-out, made my pocket twitch, and I'd an inward 
conviction telling me this place ain't good for kids. 
It's the foreman sent me off with a message. 

I rolled my tail, and curved off with Tiger to 
take in the sights of tfie town. He shied heaps, 
and It's curious to think why he objected to sign- 
boards, awnings, lamp posts, even to a harmless 
person lying drunk. Then a railroad engine 
snorted in our face, so Tiger and me was plumb 
stampeded up a little side street. It's thar that he 
bucks for all he's worth, because of a kneeling man 
with a straw hat and a punctured soul, praying 
abundant. Of course this penitent turned round 
to enjoy the bucking match— and sure reveals the 
face of my ole friend, Bull Durham. We hadn't 
met for years, so as soon as Tiger was tired, Bull 
owned to finding the Lord, and being stony busted, 
askmg if I was saved. I thought he'd got 'em bad, 



43 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

and shared my wad of money level with him. So 
we had cigars, a pound of chocolate creams, an 
oyster stew, and he bought a bottle of patent 
medicine for his liver. We shared that, and went 
on, he walking by my stirrup to the Revival 
Meeting. 

This Revival was happening at a barn, so I rode 
in. Tiger you see, needed Religion bad, and when 
people tried to turn him out, he kicked them. You 
should just have heard what the Preacher told the 
Lord about me, and all the congregation groaned 
at me being so young and fair, with silver harness, 
and the hottest prospects— just as Pieface always 
said when I was late for breakfast. 

They had a great big wooden cross upon the dais, 
and somehow, I dunno why, that made me feel 
ashamed. A girl in a white dress was singing 
" Rock of Ages " — oh, most beautiful, her arms 
thrown round the cross, the sun-bright hair about 
her like a glory. 

I could a' cried. Yes. For her great cat eyes 
were set on me, while her voice went through an' 
through me, an' — sudden a dumb yearning 
happened inside my belt. Maybe that half-bottle 
of liver dope had scouted round, found all them 
chocolate creams, and rared up for battle. But no, 
the whiskey was still calm, though I felt pale. 

Something was goin' wrong, for a most fright- 
some panic clutched my throat. Suppose I'd 
caught Religion ! Oh, it couldn't be so bad as all 
that. Fancy being saved like them wormy railroad 
men, and town scouts, took abject because the sky 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 



43 



pilot was explaining Hell. Made in God's image ? 
No, that don't apply to cowards. 

An' yet its cows to sheep thar's something wrong 
when tears runs down my face, because a girl — 
why since fifteen I'd been in love with every girl I 
seen. As a species they was scarce, some good, 
some even better. The sight of girls went to my 
head like liquor, and this one was surely good with 
her sun-bright hair, her cheeks flushed 'cause I 
stared, her sulky lips rebuking when I throw'd a 
kiss, her yellow-brown eyes — 

Oh, had I really washed behind my ears? 
Suppose I'd got high water marks 1 Was my 
hands— I whipped off my gloves to enquire. 
That's what's the matter sure. Got to make good 
before bein' introduced. Got to get a move on 
Tiger. I swung, spurred with one spring through 
the doors, yelled Injuns and stampeded, scatterin' 
gravel and panic through Abilene. I just went like 
one man for our cook waggon down by the railroad 
corralls. 

Now, for all the shaving glass could see, I was 
nice an' clean, but then that mirror has small views, 
and I'm not taking risks, but stripped and scrubbed 
all over. The place was so durned public I blushed 
from nose to heels till I was dressed again, shining 
my hair and boots. Then I procured an extra 
special cherry red silk scarf out of the wrangler's 
kit. ^ 

Some of our boys made friendly signs as I passed 
on my way back, and fired a few shots after me for 
luck, but I'd no time to play. I joined the Revival 



44 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Meeting just as the hat came round, so penitent 
sinners making for the door, came back to stay and 
pay because of Tiger. I give Bull ten dollars to 
hand to the hat, only he passed it into his own 
pocket. He seemed annoyed too, saying, ' waste 
not, want not.' Then he explained how the Fire 
Escape only paid Miss Ellis fifty dollars a day, 
whereas he was making hundreds. 

Just then she passed, and I got introduced. 
" Say, Polly," says Bull, " here's Sailor Jesse 
wants to get acquainted." 

She stopped, sort of impatient for supper, and 
velvet soft her voice, full of contempt. 
"Oh pshaw I " 

Hard gold-brown eyes all scorn, soft gold-brown 

hair, an' freckled neck, red lips, fierce, tiger fierce— 

" Another damned suppliant? " she asked, and 

Bull was holding a light for her cigarette. " Is it 

saved? " she asked. 

I couldn't speak. I wanted to tell her how I des- 
pised all the religion I'd seen, the bigots it made, 
an' the cowards. I'd rather burn with the goats 
than bleat among sheep even now. 

" Oh, that's all right then," she said as though 
she answered me, and frank as a man she gave her 
hand to shake. "Good stunt of mine eh? 
Although I own I'd like that cross stage-managed." 
She passed the weather, admired Tiger, talked 
Browns and Joneses with Bull, turning her back on 
me, asked him to supper, walked off with him, an' 
that's all. Egg shells throw'd in the ash heap may 
feel like I did then. 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 45 

Nobody loved me, 'cept our pony herd, enquirin' 
piteous for food an' water. A Widow O'Flynn 
fed me supper, her grub bein' so scarce and bad 
poor soul, she had to charge a dollar to make it 
pay. She kep' a wooden leg, and a small son. 
Our boys of course was drunk by then, just sleepin' 
whar they'd fell, so I was desolate as a moonlit 
dog-howl, ridin' herd with my night horse whar 
Polly's little home glowed lights across the prairie. 
I seen Bull and the Preacher leave there on towards 
midnight, walkin' sort of extravagant into town. 
The lights went out. Then times I'd take some 
sleep, or times ride hard guarding her little house, 
till the cold came, till the dawn broke, till the sun 
came up. 

It was half-past breakfast when I seen Bull 
again, on his knees like yesterday, a-puttin' up loud 
prayers, which made me sick. " Rehearsin' " 
says he, " 'cause Polly's struck, and I'm to be 
Chief Mourner. " 

He was my only chance of meetin' Miss Polly 
agen, so I was leadin' the talk around, when a guy 
comes butting into our conversation. He'd pufiFed 
sleeves to his pants, and was all dressed saucy, 
standing straddle, aiming to impress. "Oh 
whar's my gun?" says Bull. ' 

This person owned to being a gentleman, with a 
strong English accent. He'd 'undreds of 'orses at 
ome in 'Ammersinith, but wanted to own an 'ack 
ere don'tcherknow. 

So Bull lifts up his eyes to heaven, praying, 

Uh dont deliver us from temptation yet I " 



46 JESSE OP CARIBOO 

Whereas I confided with this person about Bull 
being far gone in religious mania. I owned Bull 
right though, about my bein' a sailor, timid with 
'orses; and he seen for hisself the way I was ridin' 
my Sam 'orse somethin' dreadful. Told me I'd 
ought to 'old my 'ed 'igh instead of 'umping. It's 
in toes, down 'eels, young feller, an' don't be 'ard 
on the bally hanlmal. He'd gimme lessons only I 
was frightened, but out aways from town the 
ground was softer for falling, an' I gained courage. 
Happens Miss Polly's house was opposite. I 
scrambled down ungainly, shoved a pebble in along 
Sam's withers, and let this gent explain just how to 
set an 'ard mouthed 'unter. You 'olds 'is 'ed, 
placin' the 'and on the 'orn of the saddle, so. Then 
hup I That ijebble done the rest. 

They claim these flying men is safe while they 
stays in the air, herding with cherubs. That's 
what's the matter. It's only when this early 
aviator came down — bang — that he lit on his 
temper, and sat denouncing me. Yes, I'd been 
misunderstood, and when I told him it was all for 
the best he got usin' adjectives. He bet me his 
diamond ring to a dollar he'd ride Sam, and I must 
own the little man had grit. He'd have won too— 
but for Sam. 

Now it's partly due to this 'ere entertainment, 
and the diamond ring I gave her, that Miss Polly 
began to pierceive me with the naked eye, and said 
I might come to supper. 

And that evening was most surely wonderful, in 
a parlour all antimacassars and rocker chairs with 






THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 47 

pink bows. She showed me plush photo albums, 
and hand painted pictures of ladies with no clothes 
on. She played "Abide with me" on the 
harmonium, she made me write poetry in her birth- 
day book. There was champagne wine, the little 
cigarettes with dreams inside, and a bottle no 
bigger'n my thumb smellin' so fierce it well nigh 
blew my head off. Oh it was all so elegant and 
high toned that I got proud of being allowed 
indoors. 

I. -T people was real Society, her Poppa an Army 
General, ruined by the war, her mother prime 
Virginian. But then she'd gone on the stage, so 
there was mean suspicions. 

I hold suspicion to be a form of meanness when 
It touches women. My mother would have shied 
at naked ladies, and Dad was powerful agin cigar- 

f^:. ^f, ^°' ""' ^"'^"' *« ^^'^^ i' had to be 
bottled, I II own up I was shocked. But then you 
see, Mother, and Dad, an' me being working 
people, was not supposed to feel the high-toned 
senses which belongs with wealth. It's not for 
grade stock like me to set up as judge on thorough- 
breds, or call a lady immoral for using a spoon 
whar I should need a shovel. 

No, I was playing worldliness for fear this 
lady d think me ignorant. I was no more'n a little 
child strayed among civilization, scared of being 
found out childish. And I was surely panicky in a 
house— belonged outdoors among horses. 

So it happened that in them days, while I rode 
guard upon Miss Polly, no man in Abilene could 



4S JESSE OF CARIBOO 

speak to her, or mention her name to me until I give 
him leave. She got to Ije Icnown as Sailor Jesse's 
Icill, and any person touching on my Icill was apt to 
require a funeral. 

It was the seventh day she married me. I Icnow, 
because Bull, acting as be t man, claimed a kiss, 
which she gave him. " Bull," says she, " didn't 
I bet you I'd marry Sailor Jesse within a week? 
You owe me twenty dollars." The joke was 
on me. 

I'd been in a dream. Love had made the yellow 
prairie shine like gold, that little prairie home a 
holy place, the woman in it something I'd kneel 
and pray to. There'd be lil' small children soon 
for me to play with, pride in earning food, the great 
big honour of guarding all of that from harm. 

I came to marriage pure as any bear, or wolf, or 
fox, expecting to find my mate the same as me, 
getter and giver of Life, true to the Earth, and 
fearless in doin' right. 

Folks said I was young to marry at nineteen, but 
full nine years I'd earned ..ly living, fought my 
way, and done my share of making happiness. I'd 
been served with a mouth full wide enough for 
laughin', a face which made folk smile when I was 
sad, eyes to see fun, the heart to take a joke if any 
offered, and when things hurt, I wasn't first to 
squeal. No : as long as the joke was on me I done 
my best to take it like a man. 

But suppose— Well, I'd best explain that the 
English tenderfoot was at our weddin' breakfast, 
and gettin' encouraged, he put up his best prize 



I 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 49 
joke. He was all hoo, hoo hnn •>» «,.. 1 

slewed h,m around as he dropped. 

yellow plSy^"^ ' "" '*^**' °"'^''"'' *'''' 

riJhf ^TK^' u^^* *'^' "P"' "P yo"r gun. That's 

aS:f./tfri?nrd^^^ 

finger^t Po,„. ..Taint lo'^rnce/o: SLng 

others SeLnTth'r ' ""^ ""'='' ^^^ »°'^ ""-d 
oiners present that you was marryin' for fun Vn,. 



50 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



first shot, missing this tenderfoot's heart, which 
ain't up to average practice; but it's time you 
began to see the point of the joke." 

They took the tenderfoot away, and we were 
alone, me watching the pool of red blood turning 
brown. Polly sat drumming tunes on the table, 
her face gone white, staring out through the window 
at the noon heat of the Plains. I remember I took 
a bottle of champagne wine, filled a big goblet, and 
drank it off. The flies were buzzing still agin the 
window. It made me laugh to think she'd taught 
me drinking, so I had another, watching the flies 
hold congress on the floor. " I see," says Polly, 
" I understand now." Then she began to scream. 

I should have told you, that after our boys of the 
Flying Zee quit Abilene, I pitched a little A tent on 
the prairie back of Polly's house. Thar I could see 
my ponies at grass, and snufi the air clear of that 
stinking town. 

But from the time I moved into the house, thar 
was something disturbing my nose — something 
uneasy — oh, I don't know what it was, back of all 
house smells, which give me sense of evil, so I 
could hardly bear to stay indoors. 

And there were signs. I'd come back from some 
errand into town, to find a man's track leading into 
the door, when Polly claimed she had no visitors. 
Why should she say she'd bi^.n alone all morning, 
when there's pipe ashes on tl.. porlour table, or I'd 
catch the wet smell from a chewed cigar. She only 
laughed. 

Comin' from town one nijht — she'd sent me there 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 5, 
Tffr^" " ""•"'' *''"**°* ""« 'h" parlour blind 

gave mm time. The lamp was out before I reach..H 
^^^house. and Polly with hysteric, get^ngT^ 

It wouldn;t be sense to show a match guidine the 

rwhirpon; . i 1'°*^ "^^' """• «"*• «f'" 

a will e Polly surprised herself into dead silence 

ouS"smerrv''' r"- "' '-■• --'""; 

1 could smell him, but that don't supply his 

I 's whi vouZT-l "• ^""■^ ^''P'"'" 'hat-No. 
firpH !! Tk . i.L' " """" ^'^"^ hard from behind. 

ilSt:'2ts.^'"'°"^°'^°"--"'>'^'-° 

Next morning I tracked blood sign to the 

hospital Seems a young person fronf ?he Bank 

had took to conjuring and swallowed lead 

It was still before breakfast that I told Polly to 

AbLt' '^rr-^'-.T^ ** ^"^ '«°-"« out from 
Abilene. I claimed I could earn enough to k^o 

and pS? ShYm H T*^ r- ^h' Miss Prunes 
«na i-risms :- Shamed of my be n' a Lady eh ? T 

am a Lady too, and don't you forget it An^ 

git out of my home " ^ ^"'' "'"^' 

neaped on the hand-painted pictures, the pape^ 



5a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

fans, the rocker chairs, and slung the coal oil lamp 
into the flames; then while she tore my shoulder 
with her teeth, I carried her to my tent. " That's 
your home now," I said, " the home of an honest 
working man," I said, " and if another tough 
defiles my home, I'll kill you." 

The house-warming gathered the neighbours, but 
she had no use for neighbours. Only they seen the 
line I drew in the dust around that tent, the dead 
line. Afterwards if any man came near that line, 
she'd scream. 

But she'd taught me to drink, an' I drank, day 
after day, night after night, while she sat frightened 
in the tent, moaning when I came. Only when she 
was cured, could I get work, not while 1 had to 
watch all day, all night. Only when she was cured 
could I get work, make good, an' keep my wife as 
women should be kept. And I— and I— why if I 
let myself get sober once I'd remember, and 
remember, and go mad. 

She swore she loved me, she vowed that she'd 
repented, and I believed until she claimed religion, 
I'd seen her breed of religion. I'd rather have her 
atheist than shamming. She would keep straight, 
and be my faithful wife if I'd quit drinking, if I'd 
only take her away. But she'd married me for a 
joke, and false as a cracked bell she'd chime out lies 
and lies, knowing as I knew that if she'd ever been 
the thing she claimed, I'd come into her life too 
late. How could she be the mother of my children, 
when— I drank, and sold my ponies to buy liquor, 
for there was no way out. 



THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 53 

And by the time I'd only Tiger left, one night 
came Bull to find me just as dusk was falling. 
He'd been away, I hadn't seen him for weeks, and 
when he came to me in the Roundup Saloon, I seen 
how frightened he was of speaking to me. I was 
drunk too, scarce knowing what he said, just tellin' 
him shut up and have a drink. Polly's bin hurt? 
Well, that's all right— have rye— Polly's been shot. 
That's good, we'd all have drinks. Was she dead ? 

She was dead. 

And I was sober then as I am now. 

"Murdered?" I asked. 

" Jesse, she shot herself." 

" Is that so?" 

" Through the brow— above the eyes. Come 
Jesse." 

Next thing I was standing in the tent door, and it 
was so dark inside I had to strike a match. The 
sulphur tip burned blue, the wood flared, and for 
that moment, bending down, I seen the black dark 
hole between the eyes, the smear of drying blood. 
Then the match went out, and I— that was enough. 

I gave Bull what I'd left, to pay for burial. 

Then I was riding Tiger all alone, with my 
shadow drawin' slowly out ahead as the moon 
waned. 



CHAPTER V. 
THE BURNING BUSH. 



In some Injun tribes, before a boy gets rated warrior, 
he goes alone afoot,' naked, starvin', thirsty, way 
off to the back side of the Desert. Thar he just 
waits, suns, weeks, may be a whole moon, till the 
Big Spirit happens to catch his eye. Then the Big 
Spirit shows him a stick, or a stone, or any sort of 
triflin' common thing, which is to be his medicine, 
his wampum, the charm which guards him, hunt- 
ing, or in war. There's the ordeal too by torture, 
done in the Medicine Lodge, so all the chiefs can 
see he's fit for bearin' arms. He's given the war 
path secret, taking his rank as a man. 

Among them Bible Indians you'll remember a 
feller called Moses, out at the back side of the 
Desert, seen the Big Spirit in a burning bush. 
Later his tribe set up a Medicine Lodge, and the 
hull story's mighty natural. 

This Indian life explains a lot to men like me 
raised ignorant, never grown up— or at least not to 
hurt. I had the ordeal by torture, which done me 
good, and I been whar Moses went, and the Lord 
Christ too, seeking the Medicine of the Almighty 
Father. 

For as I'd broken ponies for their good till they 



THE BURNING BUSH 



55 



got peaceful, so I was broke myself. Bein' full of 
pride an' sin as a young horse, so I was tamed until 
He reckoned me worth pasturage. Before then I'd 
work hard— yes, for pride. A bucking horse 
throws miles, sheer waste into the air, miles better 
pulled out straight the way you're goin". I work 
for service now. 

You know when you've been in trouble, how you 
swing back thinking of edged words which would 
have cut, and dirty actions that you wish you'd 
done. These devils has got .o go if you'd keep 
your manhood, harder to beat out than a talky 
woman, and even the littlest of them puts up a heap 
big fight. But when the last is killed, there's room 
for Peace. 

Sloth walks in front of Trouble : Peace follows 
after. Water is nothing till you thirst, rest nothing 
till you're weary, calm nothing till you've faced 
the storm, Peace nothing until after War. But 
Peace is like the water after thirst, rest when you're 
weary, calm after storm, earnings of warriors only. 
Many find Peace in death, only a few in Life, and I 
found Peace thar in the wilderness, the very 
medicine of torn souls, fresh from the hand of the 
Almighty Father. 

And I found wealth. Seems there's many 
persons mistaking dollars for some sort of wealth. 
I've had a few at times by way of samples, the 
things which you're apt to be selfish with, or give 
away to buy self-righteousness. Reckoning with 
them projuces the feeling called poverty. They're 
the very stufiF and substance of meanness, and no 



I 



56 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



man walks straight loaded. Dollars gets lost, or 
throwed away, or left to your next of kin, but 
they're not a good and lasting possession. I like 
'em too. 

What's the good and lasting possession, the real 
wealth? Times I've been down in Civilization, 
meeting folks who'd been rusting and rotting on 
one spot, from a while or so to a long lifetime, aye, 
and proud to boast in long decaying. They'd good 
memory, but nothing to remember. They're 
handy enough as purses if they were filled with 
coin. But where they're poor I'm rich, with wealth 
of memories, some good, some bad, all real. In 
coin like "seen" and "known" and "done" I'm 
millionaire. Ah yes, but times I wisht that I could 
part with things I've lived to help beginners, 
and keep moths out of candles. Things lived ain't 
current coin to be given, sold, lost, thrown, aye, or 
bequeathed. My body's meat and bones, my 
soul's the life I've lived, and mine until I square 
accounts with God. Queer reckoning that last. I 
guess He'll have to laugh, and He who made all 
Life plumb full of humour, is due to enjoy some 
things He'll have to punish. 

I found Peace, I found wealth, yes, and found 
something more thar in the wilderness. Sweet as 
the cactus forest in blossom down Salt River is that 
big memory. 

It was after I'd founH the things bt 
solitude. I'd gone to work then for the 
Outfit, breaking the Lightning colts. We 
was out a few weeks from home, taking an 



happy 



f 



THE BURNING BUSH 



57 



outfit of ponies as far as the Mesa Abaho, and one 
night camped at the very rimrock of the Canyon 
Grande. The Navaho Indians was peevish, camp 
dry, grass scant, herd in a raffish mood, and night 
come sudden. 

I'd just relieved a man to get his supper, and 
rode herd wide alert. I scented the camp smoke, 
saw the spark of fire glow on the boys at rest, and 
heard their peaceful talk hushed in the big night. 
They seemed such triflin' critters full of fuss since 
dawn, so small as insects at the edge of nothin', 
while far miles beneath us that old, old wolfy 
Colorado River was playing the Grand Canyon like 
a fiddler plays a fiddle. But the River in the 
Canyon seemed no more than a trickle in a crack, 
hushed by the night, while overhead the mighty 
blazing stars— point, swing, and drive, rode herd 
on the Milky Way. And that seemed no more 
than cowboys driving stock. Would God turn His 
head to see His star herds pass, or notice our Earth 
like some lame calf halting in the rear? 

And what am I then ? 

That was ray great lesson, more gain to me than 
peace and wealth of mind, for I was humbled to the 
dust of earth, below that dust of stars. So as a 
very humble thing, not worth praying for, at least 
I could be master of myself. I rode no more for 
wages, but cut out my ponies from the Lightning 
herd, mounted my stud horse William, told the 
boys goodbye at Montecello, and then rode slowly 
north into the British Possessions. So I come at 
last to this place, an old abandoned ranche. 



58 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



There's none so poor in dollars as to envy ragged 
Jesse, or rich enough to want to rob my home. 
They say there's hidden wealth whar the rainbow 
goes to earth— that's whar I live. 



PART II. 



CHAPTER I. 



TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR. 

My horse was hungry, and wanted to get back to 
the ranche. I was hungry too, but dared not go. 
I had left Mr. Trevor, my husband, lying drunk 
on the kitchen floor, and when he woke up it would 
be worse than that. 

For miles I had followed the edge of the bench 
lands, searching for the place, for the right place, 
some point where the rocks went sheer, twelve 
hundred feet into the river. There must be nothing 
to break the fall, no risk of being alive, of being 
taken back there, of seeing him again. But the 
edge was never sheer, and perhaps after all, the 
place by the soda spring was best. There the trail 
from the ranche at a shorp turn goes over the edge 
of the cliffs, and down to the ferry. Beyond there 
are three great bull pines on a headland, and the 
cliff is sheer for at least five hundred feet. That 
should be far enough. 

I let my horse have a drink at the spring, then we 
went slowly on over the soundless carpet of pine 
needles. I would leave my horse at the pines. 

S9 



6o 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Somebody was there. Four laden pack ponies 
stood in the shade of the trees, switching their tails 
to drive away the flies. A fifth, a buckskin mare 
iinloaded, with a bandaged leg, stood in the sun- 
light. Behind the nearest tree a man was speaking. 
I reined my horse. " Now you, Jones," he was 
saying to the injured beast, " you take yo'self too 
serious. You ain't goin' to heaven ? No 1 Then 
why pack yo' bag? Why fuss? Cayn't you trust 
yo' friend Jesse, eh?" 

I had some silly' idea that the man, if he dis- 
covered me, would know what business brought me 
to this headland. I held my breath. 

"And since you left yo' parasol to home, Jones, 
come in under out of the sun. Come on you sun- 
struck orphan." 

His slow delicious Texan drawl made me smile. 
I did not want to smile. The mare, a very picture 
of misery, lifted her bandaged frightfully swollen 
leg, and hobbled into the shade. I did not want 
to laugh, but why was she called Jones? She 
looked just like a Jones. 

" The enquirin' mind," said the man behind the 
tree, " has gawn surely astray from business, or 
you'd have know'd that rattlers smells of snake. 
Then I asks— why paw ? " 

His voice had so curious a timbre of aching 
sympathy. He actually began to argue with the 
mare. " I've sucked out the pizen, Jones, hacked 
it out with my jack knife, blowed it out with 
powder, packed yo' pastern with clay— best kind of 
clay— millionaires cayn't buy it. And I've took off 



TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR 



6i 



your cargo. Now what more kin I do? Feedin* 
bottle's to home, and we're out of cough mixture. 
What on airth— " 

The mare with her legs all astraddle, snorted in 
his face. 

" Sugar is it ? Why didn't ye say so befo' ? " 

Jones turned her good eye upon the man as 
though she had just discovered his existence, hob- 
bled briskly after him while he dug in his kitchen 
boxes, made first grab at the sugar bag, and got her 
face slapped. The man, always with his eye upon 
the mare, returned to his place, and sat on his heel 
as before. " Three lumps," he said, holding them 
one by one to be snatched. " You're acting sort 
of convalescent, Jones. No more sugar. And 
don't be a hawg I " 

The mare was kissing his face. 

" Back of all I Back water ! Thar now, thank 
the Lady behind me I " 

And I had fondly imagined my presence still 
unknown. 

" How on earth," I gasped, " did you know I 
was here?" 

The man's eyes were still intent upon the 
wounded mare. " Wall, Mrs. Trevor," he 
drawled. 

" You know my name? Your back has been 
turned the whole time ! You've never seen me in 
your life— at least I've never seen you I " 

" That's so," he answered thoughtfully. " I 
don't need tellin' the sound of that colt yo' husband 
bought from me. As to the squeak of a lady's 



T1 



63 

pigski 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



saddle, thar ain't no other lady rider short 
hundred and eighty-three and a half miles." 
What manner of man could this be? My colt 
was drawing towards him all the time as though a 
magnet pulled. 

" This Jones," the man went on, " bin' bit by 
a snake, is afraid she'll be wafted on high, so my 
eyes is sort of engaged in holding her down while 
she swells. She kicked me hearty though, and 
loading sugar's no symptom of passing away, so 
on the whole I hope she'll worry along while I cook 
dinner," 

He stood facing me, the bag still in his hand, and 
my colt asking pointedly for sugar. Very tall, 
gaunt, deeply tanned, perhaps twenty-five years of 
age, he seemed to me immeasurably old. so deeply 
lined was his face. And yet it was the face of one 
at peace. Purity of life, quaint humour, instant 
sympathy, may perhaps have given him that 
wonderful charm of manner which visibly attracted 
animals, which certainly compelled me as I 
accepted his invitation to dinner. I had been away 
since daybreak, and now the sun was entering the 
west. As to my purpose, that I felt could wait. 

So I sat under the pines, pretending to nurse 
Jones while the shadows lengthened over the tawny 
grass, and orange needles Hecking fields of rock, 
out to the edge of the headland. 

The man unsaddled my s;jrse, unloaded his 
ponies, fetched water from the spring of natural 
apollinaris, but when, coming back, he found me 
lighting a fire, he begged me to desist, to i«st while 



TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR 6j 



he made dir 



linner. And I was glad to rest, thinking 
about the peace beyond the edge of the headland. 
Yet It was interesting to see how a man keeps house 
in the wilderness, and how different are his ways 
from those of a woman. No housewife could have 
been more daintily clean, or shown a swifter skill, 
or half the silent ease with which this woodsman 
made the table ware for one, enough to serve two 
people. But a woman would not clean a fryine 
pan by burning it and throwing on cold water. He 
sprinkled flour on a ground sheet, and made dough 
without wetting the canvas. Would I like bread, 
or slapjacks, or a pie ? He made a loaf of bread, in 
a frying pan set on edge among glowing coals, and, 
wondering how a pie could possibly happen without 
th^ assistance of an oven, I forgot all about that 

He parboiled the bacon, then peppered it while it 
was frying. When the coffee boiled, he thrust in a 
red coal to throw the grounds to the bottom. If J 
thought of English picnics, that was by way of 
contrast. My host had never known, I had almost 
forgotten the shabby barriers, restraints, and tradi- 

Frontiersmen are I think really spirits strayed out 
of chivalnc ages into our century of all vulgarities. 
They are not abased, but only amused by our 
world s condescensions. Uneducated? They are 
better trained for their world than we are for ours. 
Their facts are at first hand from life, ours only at 
second hand from books. Illiterate? I should 
"ke to see one of our professors read the tracks 



'I' . 
■I I 



64 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

on a frontier trail. What was the good of the 
education which had led me to the brinic of this 
cliff 7 My host, who lived always at the edge of 
Death, had eyes which seemed to see my very 
thoughts. How else could he know that silence 
was so kind? To the snake-bitten mare he gave 
outspoken sympathy, to me his silence. Jones and 
I were his patients, and both of us trusted him. 

He had found me out. The thing I had intended 
was a crime, and conscience-stricken, I dreaded lest 
he should speak. I could not bear that. Already 
his camp was cleaned and in order, his pipe filled 
and alight, at any moment he might break the 
restful silence. That's why I spoke, and at 
random, asking if he were not from the United 
States. 

His eyes said plainly, " So that's the game.eh ? " 
His broad smile said, " Welt, we'll play." He sat 
down, cross legged. " Yes," he answered, " I'm 
an American citizen, except," he added softly, " on 
election days, and then," he cocked up one shrewd 
eye, " I'm sort of British. Canadian ? No, I 
cay n't claim that either, coming from the Labrador, 
for that's Newf'ndland, a day's march nearer 
Home. 

" Say, Mrs. Trevor, you don't know my name 
yet. It's Smith, and with my friends I'm mostly 
Jesse." 

" If you please, may I be one of your friends ? " 

" If I behave good, you may. No harm in my 
trying." 

From behind us the sun flung beams of golden 



TWJ SHIPS AT ANCHOR 65 

splendour, and blue tree shadows which went over 
the rim rock into the misty depths of the abyss 
Down there the Fraser roared. Beyond on the 
eastern side soared a vast precipice of gold and 
mauve which at an infinite height above our heads 
was crested with black pines. Level with our 
benchland that amazing cliff was cut transversely 
by a shelf of delicate verdure, with here and there 

h » K^J^^'V ^"^'^''^ P'""- Nearly opposite, 
half hidden by the trees, perched a log cabin, in 
form and in its exquisite proportion like some old 
ureek temple. 
"And that is where you live?" 
The moment Jesse Smith had given me his name. 
I knew him well by reputation. Comments by 
Surly Brown the ferryman, and my husband's 
bitter hatred had outlined a dangerous character. 
Nobody else lived within a day's journey. 

" That's my home," said Jesse. " D'ye see a 
dim trail jags down that upper cliff? That's whar 
I drifted my ponies down when I came in from the 

H■!l!^'■ aJ-^"^ ^""^ "' *^^ "«»?°" f°ad from 
Hundred Mile House to the ferry, which runs by 
the north end of my ranche." 

" Your house," I said, " always reminds me of 
an eagle's eyrie." 

"Wall, it's better'n that. Feed, water, shelter, 
timber, and squatter's rights is good enough to 
make a poor man's ranche." 

■'And the tremendous grandeur of the place? " 

Hum. I don't claim to have been knocked all 

m a heap with the scenery. A thousand foot wall 

E 



M JESSE OF CARIBOO 

•nd a twelve hundred foot gulch is big enough for 
dimples, and saves fencing. But if you left this 
district in one of them Arizona canyons over night, 
it would get mislaid. 

" No What took holt of me good and hard was 
the company, a silver tip b'ar and his missus, both 
thousand pounders, with their three young ladies 
now mar'ied and settled beyond the skyline. 
There's two couples of prime eagles still camps 
along thar by South Cave. The timber wolf 1 
trimmed out because he wasted around like a remit- 
tance man. Thar was a stallion and his harem, 
this yere fool Jones bein' one of his young mares. 
El Seflor Don Cougar and his Seftora lived here 
too, until they went into the sheep business with 
Surly Brown's new flock. Besides that, there was 
heaps of lil' friendly folks in fur, hair, and feathers. 
Yes, I have been right to home since I located." 
" But GriKly Bears? How frightful I " 
" Yes. They was frightened at first. The 
coarse treatment they gets from hunters, makes 
them sort of bashful with any stranger. Ye see 
b'ars yearns to man, same as the heathen does to 
their fool gods, whereas bullets, pizen, and dead- 
falls is sort of discouraging. Their sentiments 
gets mixed, they acts confused, and naturally if 
they're shot at, they'll get hostile same as you and 
me. They is misunderstood, and that's how 
nobody has a kind word for grizzlies." 
" But the greatest hunters are afraid of them." 
" The biggest criminals has got most scare at 
police. B'ars has no use for sportsmen, nor me 



TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR 67 

neither. My rifle's heaps fiercer than any b'ar, 
and I ve chased more sportsmen than I has 
griulies. 

" Wasn't Mr. Trevor one of them ? " 
Jesse grinned. 

" Tell me," I said, for the other side of the story 
must be worth hearing. 

" Wall, Mr. Trevor took cut a summons ar,' 1 i.-- 
for chasing him off my ranche. He got fimd .„- 
having no gun license, and no dawg licen;. , anil 
not paying his poll tax, and Cap Taylor Iioina 

?u «*' i? ''"P "'* P*'*=*- ' •'"'» popular "ow 
with Mr. Trevor, whereas he got off cheap. Nov 
If them b'ars could shoot ." 

"I hadn't thought of that. Can they be tamed ?" 
I asked. 

"Men can be gentled, and they needs taming 
most. Thar was three grizzlies sort of adopted a 

^T. ^ n^ """" °^ <^"P*" Adams, and camped 
and travelled with him most familiar. Once thVm 
four vagrants promenaded on Market Street in 
li^^A- u' l**,*' ^ ''°'*' *'"> 'his Adams in 
^A^?^uJ^ ''■" •""'"« man-smell so strong 
and distrackful to their peace of mind. But still 
I reckon Capen Adams and me sort of takes pfter 
each other. I'm only attractive to animals." 

" Oh surely 1 " I laughed. 

But Jesse became quite dismal. "I'm not 
r^Joned," he bemoaned himself, "among "h^ 
popular attractions. The neighbours shifs at 
coming near my ranche." 



68 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Well, if you protect grizzlies and hunt 
sportsmen, surely it's not surprising." 

"Can't please all parties, eh? Wall, perhaps 
that's how the herd is grazing. Yes. Come to 
think of it, I remember oncet a Smithsonian Grave 
Robber comes to inspeck South Cave. He said 
I'd got a boneyard of some ancient people, and 
he'd rob graves to find out all about them olden 
times. He wanted to catch the atmosphere of 
them days, so I sort of helped. Robbing graves 
ain't exactly a holy vocation, the party had a mean 
eye, a German name, and a sort of patronising 
manner, but still I helped around to get him 
atmosphere, me and Eph." 
"Who's Eph?" 

" Oh, he's just a silver-tip, what scientific parties 
calls Ursus Horribilis Ord. You just cast your 
eye whar the trickle stream falls below my cabin. 
D'ye see them sarvis berry bushes down below tht 
spray?" 

"Where the bushes are waving? Oh, look, 
there's a gigantic grizzly standing up, and pulling 
the branches I " 
" Yes, that's Eph. 

" Wall, as I was tellin' you, Eph and me is 
helping this scientific person to get the atmosphere 
of them ancient times." 

" But the poor man would die of fright I " 
" Too busy running. When he reached Van- 
couver, he was surely a cripple though, and no 
more use to science." 
"Crippled?" 



TWO SHIPS AT ANCHOR 



69 



" Yes, lost his truthfulness, and a Professor 
without truth is like a woman with no tongue, 
plumb disabled. His talk in the Vancouver papers 
beat Ananias, besides exciting a sort of prejudice. 
The neighbours shies at me, and I'm no more 
popular. Shalt I call Eph? " 
^^ " I think not to-day," said I hurriedly rising, 
" for indeed I should be getting home at once." 

Without ever touching the wound, he had given 
me the courage to live, had made my behaviour of 
the morning seem that of a silly schoolgirl; but 
still I did not feel quite up to a social introduction. 
I said I was sure that Eph and I would have no 
interests in common. 

" So you'll go home and face the music? " said 
Jesse's wise old eyes. 

" My husband," said I, " will be getting quite 
anxious about me." 

Without a word he brought my horse, and 
saddled him. 

And I with a sinking heart, contrasted the 
loneliness and the horror which was called my 
' home • with all the glamour of this man's happy 
solitude. 

While Jesse buckled on the bitt, some evil 
spirit prompted me to use the word ' romantic' 
In swift resentment he seized and rent the word. 

" Romantic? Snakes! Thar's nothen romantic 
about me. What I can't earn ain't worth stealing, 
and I most surely despise all shiftless people." 

" Forgive me. I did not mean romantic in that 
sense." 



70 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Lady, what did you mean? " 

" May I say picturesque? " 

He spat. " Thank Gawd I ain't that either. 
I'd shoot myself if I thought I was showing off, or 
dressing operatic, or playing at bein' more than I 
am." 

Seeing him really hurt, I made one last wriggle. 

" May I say what I mean by Romance? " 

He held the stirrup for me to mount, offered his 
hand. 

" Do you never get hungry," I asked, " for 
what's beyond the horizon ? " 

He sighed with sheer relief, then turned, his 
eyes seeing infinite distances. " Why yes I That 
country beyond the skyline's always calling. 
Thar's something I want away off, and I don't 
know what I want." 

" That Land beyond the skyline's called 
Romance." 

He clenched his teeth. " What does a ship 
want when she strains at anchor ? What she wants 
is Drift. And I'm at anchor because I sworn off 
Drift." 

At that we parted, and I went slowly homeward, 
up to my Anchor. Dear God I If I might drift 1 



CHAPTER II. 

THE TREVOR ACCIDENT. 

N.B. — Mt. Smith while living alone, had a habit 
of writing long letters to his mother. As the letters 
could not be sent by mail, and to post them in the 
stove seemed to suggest unpleasant ideas, they 
were stowed in his saddle wallets. 

Dear Mother in Heaven, 

There's been good money in this here packing 
contract, and the wad in my belt pouch has been 
growing till Dr. McGee suspecks a tumour. He 
thinks I'll let him operate, and sure enough that 
would reduce the swelling. 

Once a week I take my little pack outfit up 
to the Skyline claim for a load of peacock copper. 
It runs $300 to the ton in horn silver, and looks 
more like jewels than mineral. Iron Dale's 
cook, Mrs. Jubbin, runs to more species of pies 
and cake than even Hundred Mile House, and 
after dinner I get a rim fire cigar which pops like 
a cracker, while I sit in front of the scenery and 
taste the breath of the snow mountains. Then 
I load the ponies, collects Mick out of the cook 
house, which he's partial to bones, Iron slings 
me the mail pouch, and I hits the trail. I aim 
71 



72 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

to make good bush grass in the yellow pines by 
dusk, and the second day brings me down to 
Brown's Ferry, three miles short of my home. 
From the ferry there's a good road in winter to 
Hundred Mile House, so I tote the cargoes over 
there by sleigh. There my contract ends, 
because Tearful George takes on with his string 
team down to the railroad. I'd have that con- 
tract too, only Tearful is a low-lived sort of 
person, which can feed for a dollar a week, 
whereas when I get down to the railroad, I'm 
more expensive. 

Did you hear tell of the Cock and Bull 
Ranche? Seeing it's run by a missionary you 
may have the news in Heaven. This man starts 
a stock ranche with a Bull and Cow, Billy goat 
and Nanny goat, rooster and hen ; but happened 
the cow, the hen, and the nanny goat got 
drowned on the way up country ; and ever since 
then the breeding ain't come up to early expecta- 
tions. 

Well it's much the same way with me since 
my stallion William died — of Trapezium, 1 
think the Doctor said. The mares are grinning 
at me ever since, and it wilt take nine months 
more of this packing contract before I can buy 
another stud horse. Then there's the mortgage, 
and the graveyard artist has seized your tomb- 
stone until I pay for repairing the Angel on top. 
Life's full of worries, mother. 

Your affec. Son, 

Jesse. 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 73 

Rainstorm coming. 

P-S. — It's a caution to see how Jones steps out 
on the home trail. Or'nary as a muel when she 
has to climb, she hustles like a little running horse 
to git back down to bush grass. All night in the 
pines I'll hear her bell through my dreams, while 
she and her ponies feed, then the stopping of the 
bell wakes me up, for them horses doze off from 
when the Orion sets until its cocklight, when I 
start my fire. By loading time they've got such 
grass bellies on them that I has to be quite severe 
with the lash rope. They hold their wind while I 
cinch them, and that's how their stomachs get 
kicked. 

Yes, it's a good life, and I don't envy no man. 
Still it made me sort of thoughtful last time as I 
swung along with that Jones mare snuggling at 
my wrist, little Mick snapping rear heels astern, 
and the sun just scorching down among the pines. 
Women is infrequent, and spite of all my experi- 
ences with the late Mrs. Smith— most fortunate 
deceased, life ain't all complete without a mate. 
It ain't no harm to any woman Mother, if I just 
varies off my trail to survey Ihe surrounding stock. 
Mrs. Jubbin passes herself off for a widow, and 
all the boys at the mine take notice that she can 
cook. Apart from that, she's homely as a barb 
wire fence, and Bubbly Jock, her husband, ain't 
deceased to any great extent, being due to finish 
his sentence niong in October, and handy besides 
with a rifle. 
Then of the three young ladies at Eighty Mile, 



74 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Sally is a sound proposition, but numerously 
engaged to the stage drivers and teamster* along 
the Cariboo Road. Miss White the school Ma'am, 
keeps a widow mother with tongue and teeth, so 
them as smells the bait, is ware of the trap. That's 
why Miss White stays single. The other girl is a 
no account young person. Not thM I'm the sort 
to shy at a wcman for squinting, the same being 
quite persistent with aound mor'ils, but I hold that 
a person who scratches herself ai meals ain't never 
quite the lady. She should do it private. 

There's the Widow O'Flynn on the trail to 
Hundred Mile, which she's harsh with a wooden 
limb. Besides she wants to talk old times in 
Abilene. I don't. 

As to the married women, I reckon that tribe is 
best left alone, with respects. If you sees me agin, 
it will be in Heaven, and I don't aim to disappoint 
you by turning up at the Other Place. I'd got 
religion Mother, but for the sort of swine I seen 
converted, but even for the sake of finding grace I 
ain't going to graze with them cattle. 

While I've mostly kep' away from the married 
ladies, and said ' deliver us from temptation ' 
regular every night, there was no harm as I came 
along down, in being sorry for Mrs. Trevor. 
Women are reckoned mighty cute at reading men, 
but I've noticed when I've struck the Complete 
Polecat, that he's usually married. So long as a 
woman keeps her head she's wiser than a man, 
but when she gets rattled she's a sure fool. She'll 
keep her head with the common run of men, but 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 



75 






when she strikes the AH-Round Stinker, like a 
horse runs into a fire, she ups and marries him. 
Anjrway Mrs. Trevor had got there. 
Said to be Tuesday. 

Trip before last was the first time I seen this 
Lady. The trail from Trevor's meets in with the 
track from Skyline just at the soda spring. From 
there a sure enough waggon road snakes down 
over the edge of the bench and curves away north 
to Brown's Ferry. At the spring you get the 
sound of the rapids, you catch the smell of the 
river like a wet knife, you looks straight down into 
white water, and on the opposite bench is my 
ranche. 

Happens Jones reckoned she'd been appointed 
Inspector of snakes, so I'd had to lay off at the 
spring, and Mrs. Trevor comes along to get shut 
of her trouble. She's hungry, she ain't had any- 
thing but her prize hawg to speak to for weeks, 
and she's as curious as Mother Eve anyway. 
Curiosity in antelopes and women projuces venison 
and marriages, both sp)ecies being too swift and 
shy to be met up with otherwise. 

She's got allusions too, seeing things as large as 
a sceart horse, so she's all out of focus, supposin' 
me to be romantic and picturesk, wharas I'm a 
working man out earning dollars. Still it's kind 
in any Lady to take an interest, and I done what 
you said in aiming at the Truth no matter what I 
hits. 

Surely my meat's transparent by the way her 
voice struck through among my bones. If angels 



76 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



speak like that I'd die to hear. She told me 
nothin', not orit word about the trouble that's 
killing her, but her voice made me want to cry. 
If you'd spoke like that when I was your puppy, 
you'd a had no need of that old slipper, Mother. 

'Cause I couldn't tear hir away from the beef 
bones, I'd left Mick up at tiie Skyline, or I'd ast 
that Lady to accept my dog. You see he'd bite 
Trevoi alright, wharas I hjs "j diet myself, and 
my menu is sort of completi Still by the time she 
stayed in camp, my talk may have done some 
comfort to that poor woman. She didn't know 
then that her trouble was only goin' to last another 
week. 

This is Pie Day. I comes now to describing my 
last trip down from the Skyline, which I bustled 
the ponies just in case Mrs. Trevor might be taking 
her cultus cooly along towards Soda Spring. Of 
course she wasn't there. 

You'd have laughed if you'd seen Jonei after 
she drank her fill of water out of the bubbly spring, 
crowded with soda bubbles. She just goes hie, 
tittup, hie, down the trail, changing step as the 
hiccups jolted her poor old ribs. The mare looked 
so blamed funny that at first I didn't notice the 
tracks along the road. 

To judge by the hind shoes, Mrs. Trevor's mean 
colt had gone down towards the river not more'n 
ten minutes ago, on the dead run, then back up the 
road at a racking out-of-breath trot. Something 
must have gone wrong, and sure enough as I 
neared a point of rocks which hid the trail ahead, 



'■* 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 77 

Jones suddenly shied hard in the midst of a hiccup. 
There was the Widow Bear's trar k right across the 
road, and Micl< had to yell blue blazes to get the 
other ponies past the smell. Ahead of me the 
tracks of the Trevor colt were dancing the width of 
the road, bucking good and hard at the stink of 
bear. Then I rounded the point of rocks. 

There lay Mrs. Trevor all in a heap. The after- 
noon sun caught her hair, which flamed gold, and 
a green humming bird whirred round as though it 
were some big flower. Since Jones would have 
shied over the tree tops at a corpse or a whiff of 
blood, I knew she'd only fainted, but felt at her 
breast to make sure. I tell you it felt like an 
outrage to lay my paw on a sleeping lady, and still 
worse I'd only my dirty old hat to carry water 
from a seepage in the cliff. My heart thumped 
when I knelt to sprinkle the water, and when that 
blamed humming bird came whirring past my ear, 
I jumped as though the devil had got me, splashing 
the hatful over Mrs. Trevor. At that her eyes 
opened, staring straight at my face, but she made 
out a sort of smile, when she saw it was only me. 
' Jesse 1" 

" Yes Ma',im." 

" Seen my husband? " 

" No Ma'am." 

" I don't know what's come over him," she 
moaned, clenching her teeth; " he fired at me." 

" That gun I traded to him ? " 

" Four shots." 



78 



JESSE OP CARIBOO 



" You was running away when your colt shied 
at the bear? " 

" My ankle. Jesse, it hurts so dreadfully. Yes, 
the left." 

My knife ripped her riding boot clear. The old 
red bandana from my neck made her a wet 
bandage, and the boot top served for a splint. 
There was no call to tell her the foot was broken, 
and the fainting fits eased my job. Between whiles 
she would tell me to hurry, knowing that the return 
of that damned colt would show Trevor which way 
she'd run. I had no weapon, so if Trevor hap- 
pened along with the .43 revolver it wouldn't be 
healthy. 

I couldn't leave the loads of ore on my ponies, 
and if I got Mrs. Trevor mounted with her foot 
hanging down, she'd lose time swooning. So I 
unloaded all the ponies except Jones, and turned 
them loose, keeping Jones and Swift, who has a 
big heart for travel. Next I filled one of the raw- 
hide panniers with brush, and lashed it across 
Jones' neck for a back rest. A wad of pine brush 
made a seat between Jones' panniers where I mostly 
carry my grub. Hoisting Mrs. Trevor on to the 
mare's back was a pretty mean job, but worst of 
all I had to lash her down. Taking my 38 foot 
rope I threw a single-hand diamond, hitching the 
lady good and hard to mare and cargo. Her head 
and shoulders was over Jone^,' neck, her limbs 
stretched out above his ruitip, where I made 
them fast with a sling rope. I've packed wiining 
machinery, wheels, and once a piano, but I never 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 



79 



heard tell of anyone packing a lady. For chafing 
gear to keep the ropes from scorching, I had to use 
my coat, shirt, and undershirt, so that when I 
mounted Swift to lead off, I'd only boots and 
overalls, and Mrs. Trevor could see I was blushing 
down to my belt. Shocked? Nothing I Great 
ladies doesn't shock tike common people. No, in 
spite of the pain racking and the fear haunting, 
she laughed, and it done me good. She said I 
looked like Mr. Polio Belvideary, a dago she'd 
met up with in Italy. Dagoes are swine, but the 
way she spoke made me proud. 

Jones leads good, which was well for me riding 
bareback, for we didn't stop to pick flowers. 
Washing Day after Supper, 

We weren't more than half way down to the 
river when we heard Trevor surging and yelling 
astern, somewheres up on the bench. At that I 
broke to a trot, telling the lady to let out a howl 
the moment it hurt beyond bearing. I wonder 
what amount of pain is beyond the bearing of real 
thoroughbreds? That lady would burn before 
she'd even whimper. 

Nearing the ferry my innards went sick, for the 
punt was on the far bank, the man was out of sight, 
and even Jones wouldn't propose to swim the river 
with a cargo of mineral and a deck load. As we 
got to the door of Brown's cabin, Trevor hove in 
sight. 

Now supposing you're poor in the matter of 
time, with say, half a minute to invest to the best 
advantage, you try to lay out your thirty seconds 



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8o 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



where they will do most good. I lep to the ground, 
giving Jones a hearty slap on the off quarter, which 
would steer her behind Brown's cabin ; then with 
one jump I grabbed old man Brown's Winchester 
rifle from its slings above the hearth, shoved home 
two cartridges from the mantel, rammed the muzzle 
through the window pane, which commands a view 
up the trail, and proceeded to take stock of Mr. 
Trevor. 

The man's eyes being stark staring mad, it was 
a sure fact he'd never listen to argument. If I 
shot him, the horse would surge on, dropping the 
corpwe at Mrs. Trevor's feet, which would be too 
sudden to please. If I stopped the horse at full 
gallop, the rider would go on till he hit the scenery, 
and after that he wouldn't feel well enough to be 
injurious. That's why I waited, following with the 
rifle until the horse's shoulder widened out, giving 
me a clear aim at the heart. The horse finished his 
stride, but while I was running to the door, he 
crumpled and went down dead, the carcase sliding 
three yards before it stopped. As to the man he 
shot a long curve down on his back, in a splash of 
dust which looked like a brown explosion. His 
revolver went further on, whirling, until a stump 
touched off the trigger, and its bullet whined over 
my head. 

Next thing I heard was the rapids, like a church 
organ beginning a hymn, and Mrs. Trevor's call. 

" You've killed him ? " 

" No ma'am, but he's had an accident. I'll take 
him to the cabin for first aid." 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT Si 

Trevor was sitting up by the time I reached him. 
He looked sort of sick. 
" Get up," said I, remembering to be polite in 

I^il '/.^ k"'"/''"'* '° '^•'^ ^ "«'« nourishment. 
I flicked the bottle into the river, and assisted him 

He said he wasn't feeling very well, so when I 
got h.m mto the cabin, I let him lie on Brown's 
bed, lashing h.m down good and hard. I Jave 

private. Now, said I, " your name is Polecat 

I IVfh P "'■''''' "^'^' ''^^^^- Mr. Polecat, u^'i 
I get the Provincial Constable." I gathered from 
his expression that he'd sort of taken a JisHk^t" 

Swift and the mare were grazing on pine chins 

'■Your husband," said I, " is resting." 

She gave me a wry laugh, and seeing she was in 

paw I poured water over her foot. 

to mJ"*' ' '""'''" "^^ ''''' " how good you are 

whS he seen T ha '' 'f'" °°'' ""'^ '*'" "°^^« 



S 1,1 
( i ■ 

I* 



8a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

cargo on pack animals, or me naked to the belt, 
and making free with his rifle. I give him his 
Winchester, which he set down by his door, also 
a dollar bill, but he was still crowded full of 
peevishness, wasting the lady's time. At last I 
hustled the ponies aboard the punt, and set the 
guide lines so that we started out along the cable, 
leaving the old man to come or stay as he pleased. 
He came. Fact is I remembered that while I took 
Mrs. Trevor to my home, I'd need a messenger to 
ride for doctor, nufse, groceries, and constable. 
I'm afraid Old Man Brown was torn some, catching 
on a nail while I lifted him into the punt. His 
language was plentiful. 

Now I thought I'd arranged Mrs. Trevor and 
Mr. Trevor and Mr. Brown, and added up the sum 
so that old Geometry himself couldn't have figured 
it better. Whereas I'd left out the fact that 
Brown's bunk was nailed careless to the wall of his 
cabin. As Trevor struggled, the pegs came adrift, 
the bed capsized, the rope slacked, and the Polecat 
breaking loose, found Brown's rifle. I'd led the 
ponies out of the punt, and was instructing Brown, 
when the Polecat let drive at me from across the 
river. With all his faults he could shoot good, for 
his first grazed my scalp, half blinding nie. At 
that the lady attracted attention by screaming, so 
the third shot stampeded poor Jones. 

I ain't religious, being under thirty, and not due 
to reform this side of rheumatism, but all the sins 
I've enjoyed was punished sudden and complete in 
that one minute. Blind with blood, half stunned, 



THE TREVOR ACCIDENT 83 

and reeling sick, I heard the mare as she plunged 
along the bank dispensing boulders. No top-heavy 
cargo was going to stand that strain without 
coming over, so the woman I loved— yes I knew 
that now for a fact.- was going to be dragged until 
her brains were kicked out by the mare. It seemed 
to me ages before I could rouse my senses, wipe 
■■'iy eyes, and mount the gelding. When sight 
and sense came back, I was riding as I never dared 
to ride in all my Jife, galloped Mr. Swift on rolling 
boulders steep as a roof, and all a-slither. I got 
Swift sideways up the bank to grass, raced past the 
mare, then threw Swift in front of Jones. Down 
went the mare just as her load capsized, so that she 
and the lady, Swift and I, were all mixed up in a 

My little dog Mick was licking my scalp when I 
woke, and it seemed to me at first that something 

Z K ,!f ^°"' ^""«- ^y head was between 
two boulders, with the mare's shoulder pressing 
my nose, my legs were under water, and somewhere 

t^.TZ,'^^ '!*""^ '■^P'*''"' Swift scrambling 
for a foothold, and Mrs. Trevor shouting for aH 
she was worth I waited till Swift cleared out, and 
the lady quit for breath. 
" Yes ma'am," says I, 



'Oh 



says 
say you're not dead, Jesse I " 



are you ? ' 



blunt 



say? 



^ Only in parts." said I, " and how „.„ ,„ 
m cutting the ropes, but oh, this knife 

Don't spoil your knife. Will you do what I 



s so 



84 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



I 



" Of course I will." 

" Reach out then on the off side of the load. 
The end of that lashing's fast to the after basket 
line." 

When I'd explained that two or three times, " I 
have it," she answered. " Loose 1 " 

" Pull on the fore line of the diamond." 

" Right. Oh Jesse, I'm free I " 

" Kneel on the mare's head, reach under the 
pannier, find the latego, and cast off." 

She fumbled awhile, and then reported all clear. 

" Get off the mare." 

In another moment Jones was standing up to 
shake herself, knee deep in the river, and with a 
slap I sent her off to join Swift at the top of the 
bank. Mrs. Trevor was sitting on a boulrier, 
staring out over the rapids, her eyes set on some- 
thing coming down midstream. Her face was a'.l 
grey, and she clutched my hand, holding like grim 
death. As for me, I'd never reckoned that even 
a madman would try to swim the Fraser in clothes 
and boots. 

" I can't bear itl " she cried, turning her face 
away. " Tell me ." 

"I guess," said I, feeling mighty grave, "you're 
due to become a widow." 

The rapids got Trevor, and I watched. 

" You are a widow," says I, at last. 

She fainted. 

There, I'm dead sick of writing this letter, and 
my wrist is all toothache. 

Jesse. 



CHAPTER III. 



LOVE. 

Jesse argues that there's nothing to boast of in the 
way he saved me. Horse and rifle are like feet to 
run with, hands to fight with, part of his life. 
" Now if I'd rode a giraffe and harpooned you, 
I'd have my name in all the papers. Shucks I 
Skill and courage are things to shame the man 
who hasn't got them." 

I married Lionel Trevor in the days when he 
looked like a god as Parsival, sang like an angel, 
had Europe at '.lis feet. " Something wrong with 
Europe," is Jesse's comment. " West of the 
Rockies we don't use such, except to sell their 
skins." 

When Lionel lost his voice— more to him than 
are horse and gun to Jesse-he would not ask me 
to follow him into the wilderness, but tried to 
persuade me to stay on in London. I was singine 
Euridice in " Orfeo," my feet, thanks to Lione* 
were at last on the great ladder, and if I was 
ambitious, who shall blame me? Yet for better, 
for worse, we were married, and here among the 
pines, in this celestial air, a year or two at the 
most would give him back his voice. My place 
was at his side, for better or worse, and when he 
drank, when day by day I watched the light of 

8fi 



86 



JESSF OF CARIBOO 



reason give place in his eyes to bestial vice, until 
at last I found myself chained to a maniac — till 
death us do part — it was then I first saw Jesse, the 
one man whose eyes showed understanding. 

I can't write about that day when Lionel, a thing 
possessed of devils, hunted me through the woods 
like a bear. It wasn't fair. I'm only twenty-eight 
years old. It wasn't fair that I should be treated 
like that. I doubt if I remember all that happened. 
I must have been crazed with pain and fear until 
suddenly I woke up on a boulder by that awful 
river, and saw him drift past me caught in the 
rapids drowning. I would have shouted I was so 
glad, until he saw me, and dying as he was, looked 
at me with Lionel's clear sane eyes. 

I fainted, and when I awoke again in the dusk, 
Jesse bent over me, not as he is, the rugged fight- 
ing frontiersman, but dressed in white, wearing a 
wreath of beaten gold leaves, the laurel crown. 
He was a Greek warrior, and it seemed to me that 
I too wore the Grecian dress, a milk-white peplon. 
We were walking side by side along a beach 
between the cliffs and the sea. He stopped, 
looking seaward, his bronzed face set with an 
anxiety, which as he watched, became fear. He 
clasped me in his arms, and then I saw that out of 
the distance of the sea, came a wave, rushing 
straight at us, a monstrous tidal wave with curved 
and glassy front, crowned with a creaming surf of 
high-flung diamond. The cliff barred all escape, 
and we stood waiting, locked in each other's arms, 
commending our spirits to the Gods 



LOVE 



87 



My eyes broke through the vision, for Je3^*, the 
real Jesse of this present life, shooij me, imploring 
me to rouse myself. He says I woke up shouting 
" Zeus! Zeusl " He lifted me in his arms and 
carried me. 

Of course I was hysterical, being overwrought, 
and the very thought is nonsense that in some past 
life thousands of years ago, Jesse and I were lovers. 
That night and for three weeks afterwards, I lay 
delirious. At the ferryman's cabin he made me a 
bed of pine boughs, until my household stuff and 
the Chinese servant could be brought down from 
the ranche. He sent Surly Brown to bring Dr. 
McGee, and the Widow O'Flynn as my nurse, 
while her son Billy was hired to do his pack train 
work. From that time onward the pack outfit 
carried cargoes of ore from the mine, and loads 
from Hundred Mile House of every comfort and 
luxury which money could buy for me. Jesse 
bought tents, which he set up beside the cabin, one 
for my servant, the other for Brown and himself, 
besides such travellers as from time to time stayed 
over night at the ferry. When I got well, I found 
that Jesse had spent the savings of years, and had 
not a dollar left. 

The widow nursed me by day, Jesse by night, 
and after one attempt by Mrs. O'Flynn, it was he 
who dressed my foot. In his hands he had the 
delicate strength of a trained surgeon, but also 
something more, that sympathetic touch which 
charms away pain, bringin? ease to the mind as 



well as to the body. " 'Tisn't," said he. 



as if 



88 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

you kicked me out of the stable every time I laid 
a hand on yo' pastern. That Jones, when she hurt 
her foot, just kicked me black and blue." 

When at last I crept out of doors to bask in the 
autumn sut;light, the cotton woods and aspens were 
changed to lemon, the sumac to crimson, the fallen 
needles of the pines clothed the slopes with orange, 
and a mist of milky blue lay in the canyon. Very 
beautiful were those days, when no breath of wind 
stirred the warm perfume, and the music of the 
rapids echoed from sun-warmed precipice and 
glowing woodlands up to the gorgeous cobalt of 
the sky. Cured of all sick fancies, I was content 
to rest. 

Jesse had arranged with lawyers for probate of 
Lionel's will, and settlement of his debts, which 
would leave me nothing. So far as Jesse knew, I 
was penniless, and to this day I have never dared 
acknowledge that, secured from the extravagance 
of my late husband, I have capital bringing in 
some ;<^i,5oo a year. Jesse supposed me to be 
destitute, and when I spoke of returning to my 
trade in Europe, offered to raise the money for my 
passage. Knowing his ranche to be already mort- 
gaged to its full value, I wondered what limit there 
was to this poor man's valour. Yes, I would 
accept, assuring him of swift repayment, yet dared 
not tell him the wages offered me at Covent Garden. 
It seemed indecent that a woman's voice should be 
valued at more per week than his heroic earnings 
for a year. 

I sang to him, simple emotional music : Orfeo's 



LOVE 



80 



lament, the finale of " II Trovatore," the «. eel 
8ong from Chopin's "Marche Funibre." 

There was the last of my poor little tests which 

had proved in him a chivalry, a generosity, a moral 

valour a physical courage, a sense of beauty, a 

native humour, which made me very humble. AH 

I had foolishly imagined in poor Lionel, all that 

a woman hopes for in a man, was hrre beyond the 

accidents of rank or caste. How pitiful seemed the 

standards of value which rated Lionel a gentleman, 

and this man common 1 Jesse is something by 

nature which gentlemen try to imitate with iheir 

cul ure. Should I go back to imitations? I had 

outlived all that before I realised the glory of the 

great wilderness, before I met Jesse and loved him 

Could I promise to love, honour, and obey? I 

loved him, I honoured him, and as to obeyine of 

course that's the way they are managed. 

I wonder why women make it so important that 
a man should propose? It needed no telling that 
Jesse and I were in love. It seemed only natural 
that we should marry, and any pretence of mourn- 
ing for the late Mr. Trevor would have been 
distasteful. 

My dear Father was content with my first 
marriage, because-it seems so quaint-M. Trevor 
was a sound Churchman. The old Saint had 
indeed one misgiving, for Lionel was very High 
Church, and if he reverted to Rome, the religious 
education of any children-My Father has found 
peace in a Land where there are no doctrinal 
worries. But for his daughter he would pray still 



S 'j 



90 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



lest she be yoked with an unbeliever. For my 
father's sai<e I asl<ed Jesse about his religious 
convictions. 

" Wall," he explained, " my old mother was a 
Hardshell Baptist, and father was Prohibition, 
3o if them two forms of ignorance came to be used 
around here, I'd be a sort of mongrel." 

" Surely you don't think the Churches mere 
forms of Ignorance? " 

" Ignorance," he took the word up thoughtfully. 
"It's a thing I practisies, and apt to recognise by the 
way it acks. It ain't so scarce in them Churches 
.■js you'd think. Maybe, knowin' more than me, 
you can tell me about that Sermon on the Mount. 
Was it a Catholic Mount, or Baptist, or Episco- 
palian?" 

" Surely a hill, or mountain." 

"And Jesus took his people away from the smell 
of Denominations — Scribes, Pharisees, and such, 
to some place outdoors? " 

The idea struck me full in the face like a sudden 
lash of spray, but before I could clear my eyes, the 
man had followed his thought to a weird conclu- 
sion. 

" The more they build churches and chapels to 
corrall Him, the more He takes to the woods. I 
sort of follow." 

This only left me to wonder what my dear old 
white saint would have said. 

Certainly he could never have accepted that 
American citizenship, and Jesse's nationality is 
vague. " Thar's God," he would say quite rever- 



i 



LOVE 



91 



ently, "and Mother England, and Uncle Sam, 
but beyond that I ain't much acquainted. The 
rest seems to be sort of foreigners. The Labrador ? 
Oh, that's just trimmings." 

Whatever he is, I love him, primitive, elemental, 
kin of the woodland gods, habitant of the white 
sierras, the august forest, and the sweet wild 
pastures. My doubts fluttered away from the main 
issue to settle down on very twigs of detail. I had 
not courage to imagine what a fright he would look 
in civilized clothes, how awkward he would feel 
among folk and houses, or how such dear illusions 
would be shattered if ever my cynical relations saw 
him eat. He is a Baptist, and by his convictions 
liable to wed in store clothes, with a necktie like a 
bootlace, and number twelve kid gloves, taking his 
honeymoon as a solemnity at the very loudest hotel 
in San Francisco. Preferring plague, pestilence, 
famine, battle, murder, and sudden death, to such 
festivities, I pleaded our poverty, and dire need of 
keeping free from debt. Although born in the 
Labrador, he had been a cowboy in Texas for half 
his working life. As a stockman, he was to wed a 
rancher's widow. Was he ashamed of his busi- 
ness? No, proud as Lucifer I Was he ashamed 
of the dress of his trade ? Not by a damned sight ! 
Soldiers and sailors are proud to wear the dress 
of their trade when they marry. " So are cow- 
punchers," said he, with his head in the air. 
" S'pose we ride to Cariboo City, and get married 
in that little old log church." 
He managed to persuade me; and I consented 



9a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

also to a hunting trip, instead of the usual honey- 
moon. 

When I was well enough for the journey, I rode 
my colt, and Jesse his demon mare, Jonet., my sole 
rival I think, except that dreadful bear, in his 
affections. Two pack ponies carried our camp and 
baggage, and each night he would set up a little 
tent for me, bedding himself dcvn beside the fire. 
At the end of five days' journey, we rode at dusk 
into Cariboo. 

Captain Taylor, of Hundred Mile House, and 
Pete Mathson, the Cargador of the Star Pack 
Train, two old staunch friends of Jesse, witnessed 
our marriage in the quaint log building which 
served the Cariboo miners as Church and school 
house. The Reverend Cyril Redfern, pioneer and 
missionary, read the service, while our ponies 
waited just outside the door. Jesse wore his plain 
old leather shaps, a navy blue shirt, a scarf of ruby 
silk against his tanned neck, and golden Mexican 
spurs— his dearest treasure. He must have known 
he looked magnificent, for he carried himself with 
such quiet dignity, and his deep voice thrilled me, 
for it was music. I could hardly respond for 
crying, and would gladly have been alone after- 
wards in the church, that I might thank God for 
all His mercy. 

Captain Taylor is a retired naval officer, a 
pioneer of the gold mines, a magistrate, a man to 
trust, and when he gave me his heartfelt congratu- 
lations, it was not without knowledge of Jesse's 
character. He, and Pete the cargador, rode with 



LOVE ^3 

ZIV^""?^ °^ ^'^ ^'^^ packtrain, and it was 
ft? rul°'T '^^' *" ^'^ °"' *«dding break. 
SpohJ )?u ^1 °^ ^"***^" ^"™'"«^' the serene 
all the shining h.Us-such was our banquet hall, 

hLlthc"''^ T^ ^'°°^ "^ °^<=''^«'"- We drank 
healths in champagne from tin cups, and then 
saddlmg up. Jesse and I rode away'abne Tnto tll^ 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE LANDLORD. 



Of his life before he reached this Province Jesse 
will so far tell me nothing, yet his speech betrays 
him, for under the vivid dialect of the stock range, 
there is a streak of sailor, and beneath that I detect 
traces of brogue which may be native perhaps to 
Labrador. Out of a chaos of books he has picked 
words which pleased him, as pronounced of course 
to suit himself, and used in some sense which would 
shock any Dictionary. 

His manners and customs too are a field for 
research. Of course one expects him to be profes- 
sional with rope, gun, and axe, but how did he 
learn the rest ? I wanted a lantern— he made one ; 
my boot was torn — he made one; my waterproof 
coat was ruined— he made one ; and if I asked for a 
sewing machine, he would refuse to move camp 
until he had one finished. If his name were not 
Smith, I could prove him directly descended from 
the Swiss Family Robinson. If a project sounds 
risky, I have to assume that it is something 
unusually safe, as the only way to keep him out 
of danger. If I should ever wish to be a widow, 
I have only to doubt his power to fly without wings. 

Our journey last autumn led us into most 

94 



THE LATVDLORD 95 

awesome recesses of the Coast Range. Heads of 
the sea fjords lay dismal among crowding glaciers, 
white cataracts came roaring down through belt 
after belt of clouds, to where a grim surf battled 
with black rocks. In that dread region of avalanche 
and rock slide, of hanging ice cliffs, roaring storms, 
ear-shattering thunder, our camp seemed too frail 
a thing to claim existence, our thread of smoke a 
httle prayer for mercy. " Nary a dollar in sight," 
was Jesse's comment. "Such microbes don't 
br^d here. D'ye think they'll ever vaccinate agin 
selfishness, Kate? That plague kills more souls 
than smallpox." 

Guided by his uncanny woodcraft, I began to 
meet the parishioners, mountain sheep and goats 
the elk and cariboo, eagles, bears, wolverines, and 
certainly I shared something of Jesse's untiring 
delight in all wild creatures. Even when we 
needed meat in camp, and some plump goose or 
mallard was at the mercy of his gun, Jesse would 
sometimes beg the victim off, and catch more trout. 
_ S>o long as they don't hunt us," he would say. 

Id rather tote your camera than my gun. But 
thar s that doggone beaver down the crick, he tried 

u- u n?. y^^'^^'^^y ^gain- If he don't tame 
himself, 1 11 slap his face. Thinks he's Editor." 
Were there no clouds, should we realise that the 
sky IS blue. If no little misunderstandings had 
risen above our horizon, would Jesse and I have 
realised our wedded happiness? How should I 
know when I read his pocket diary, what was meant 
by one night out. Took Matilda." or " Matilda 



1)1 



96 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



and Fussy to-night," or " marched with Harem ! " 
Matilda and Fussy if you please, are blankets, and 
the Harem is his winter camp equipment. As to 
such passages as — 



^^JA^/ 



well, I thought it safer not to let him explain. 
What would you think if you found this in a book ? 

He says it means " Eating house woman chasing — 
Jesse galloping — home dead finish." 

And some of it is worse I 

I dare not accuse my dear man of being narrow 
minded. I have no doubt that he is quite justified 
in his intense antipathy to niggers. Dagos, and 
Chinks — indeed he will not allow my Chinese 
servant on the ranche. But if I wished to uncork 
a choice vintage of stories, I alluded to his prejudice 
igainst the word ' grizzly ' as applied to his pet 
bear. 

" Now that's whar yo're dead wrong," he threw 
a log of cedar upon our camp altar, making fresh 
incense to the wild gods. " The Landlord's a 
silver-tip, fat as butter. Down in the low country, 
whar feed is mean, and Britishers around, the b'ars 
is poor, and called grizzlies. I'd be shamed to 
have a grizzly on my ranche. Come to think 
though Kate, the Landlord was a sure enough 
grizzly three years back. He'd had misfortunes." 



THE LANDLORD 



97 



" Tell me." As he stirred the fire, gathering 
his thoughts, I watched the cedar sparks, a very 
torchlight procession of fairies flowing upward into 
the darkness overhead. 

" Wall you see, he and the Landlady was always 
around same ac you and me, but not together. No. 
Being respectable b'ars they'd feed at opposite ends 
of the pasture." 

" But don't the married couples live together? " 
" None. They feels it ain't quite modest to 
make a show of their marriage. You see Kate, 
after all, these b'ars is not like us, but sort of 
foreigners. Mother gets kind of secluded when 
there's cubs, 'cause father's so careless and eats 
'em." 

" How disgusting." 

" I dunno. Time I speak of, their three young 
lady b ars was married somewheres up in the black 
pines, whar it takes say fifty square miles to feed 
one silvertip-and no tourists to help out in times 
of famine. That country was gettin' over-stocked, 
with a high protective tariff agin canyon b'ars. 

"And here's the Landlady down on our ranche 
chuck full of fiscal theories. ' B'ars is good,' says 
she, ' the more cubs the merrier,' says she ' let's 
be fruitful and multiply.' And it's only' a two 
b ar ranche. Thar ain't no England handy whar 
she can dump spare cubs. 

*' So the Landlord gets provident and eats the 
cubs. Naturally thar's a sort of coolness arises 
over that, so that she's feeding north, while he's 
around south. Then the salmon season happens 



98 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



There's only two fishing rocks in our reach, the 
same being t.^se together. The Landlord he 
fishes at the backwater rock. The Landlady fishes 
at the rapids rock. They has to pretend they've 
not been introjuced. 

" There's been heavy rains, and up on the edge 
of the bench I seen a new crack opening across 
Apex Rock. I'd have put up a Danger Notice, 
only these people thinks its for scratching their 
backs on. There's the crack getting wider, and 
the Landlady fishing right underneath, and me 
hollerin', but she's too full of pride to care about 
my worries. So I thinks maybe if I just drop her 
a hint she'll begin to set up and take notice. I 
run home for my rifle, posts myself at Big Pine, 
takes a steady bead, and lets fly, knocking a salmon 
out of the lady's mouth. Then I remembers that 
the shock of a gunshot is enough to loose the end 
of Apex Rock. It does, and while the scenery is 
being re-arranged, the Landlady sets up, wonder- 
ing what's the trouble. When the dust clears, 
Apex Rock up here is reduced to a stump; down 
thar by the rapids the Fishing Rock's extended 
with additions ; the Landlord's a widower, running 
for all he's worth ; and the Landlady is no more— 
not enough left of her to warrant funeral obse- 
quies." 

" Why is the Landlord called Eph ? " 
" Christian name. Most b'ars is Ephraim, but 
he's Ephrata which means ' be open.' I tried to 
get him to be open with me instead of stealing 
chickens. That's when the bad year come." 



THE LANDLORD 99 

" Were you in difficulties? " 
Eph was. Tiiem canneries down to salt water, 
had fished the Fraser out, and the hatchery didn't 
get to Its work until the fourth year, when the new 
spawn come b ,:k to their home river. Yes and 
the sarvis berries failed. 1 dunno why, but the 
silver-tips of this districk ain't partial to the same 
kinds of feed as they practises in Montana and 
Idaho. Down south they'll lunch on grubs, ants 
or dog-tooth violets, but Eph ain't an original 
thinker. He runs to application, and shies at new 
Ideas. Hed vote conservative. So when the 
salmon and berries went back on him, he sort of 
petered out. He come to the cabin and said, plain 
as talk, he was nigh quitting business." 

"But Jesse! A starving gr-I mean b'ar. 
Weren t you afraid even then ? " 

" Why for ? My pardner attends to his business, 
and don t interfere with my hawss ranche. He 
owns the grubs, berries, salmon, wild honey and 
fixings. I owns the grass, stock, chickens, and 
garden sass. When we disagreed about them 
cabbages, I shot holes in his ears until he allowed 
they was mine. His ears is still sort of untidy. 
As to his eating Sarah, wall, I warned her not to 
tempt poor Eph too much." 
"Sarah? " 

"Jones's foal. Being a fool runs in her family. 
]n^ R ^f' ,'^'^' ^'"^ '^''^^e:es was gettin' seldom, 
and Eph was losing confidence in my aim, although 
I told him I'm tough as sea beef." 
" He did attack you then ? " 



100 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Not exactly. His acts might have been mis- 
understood though. Seemed to me it was time 
to survey the pasture, and see how much in the 
way of grub could be spared to a poor widower. 
These people eats meat, but they likes if butchered 
for 'em, and ripened. Down at the south end, I 
spared Eph a family of wolverines, one at a time, 
to make the rations hold out. He began to get 
encouraged. Then this place was just humming 
with rattlesnakes, so Eph and me went around 
together so long as the hunting was worth the 
trouble. I doubt if there's any left." 

At that I breathed a sigh of relief. 

" Then Eph gets sassy, wanting squir'ls and 
chipmunks. Now thar I was firm. Every striped 
varmint of 'em may rob my oat sacks, every squir'l 
may set up and cuss me all day, but they won't get 
hurt. They scold and swear, but every, lil' devil 
among them knows I like being insulted. Though 
they has enemies — foxes, mink, skunk, weasel, I 
fed that lot to Eph, saving the foxes. Tell you 
Kate, the Landlord began to get so proud he 
wouldn't know me." 

" Your great eagles, Jesse; they kill squirrels 
too." 

" That's a fact. If I shot the eagles, them 
squir'ls would get too joyful. Eagles acks as a sort 
of religion tc squir'ls, or they'd forget their prayers. 
The next proposition was cougars." 

" Oh I'm glad you killed them. At the old 
rar"he I was so terrified I'd lie awake all night." 

' And you a musician t Now that's curious. 



THE LANDLORD loi 

You like lil' small cats, only one foot from top to 
tip, although I own they're songsters for their size. 
But a nine foot cougar, with a ten-thousand cat- 
power voice, composing along as he goes, why 
he's full of music. Now I was goin' to propose a 
cougar opera troupe. They'd knock the stuffing 
out of that Wagner anyway." 
"Not for me, dear. You see, there's trade 
rivalry. I wish you had shot them." 

"I'm sort of sorry. Many's the time, camped 
on your bench land, which I own is a good place 
for cougars, I'd set up half the night to listen. 
They'd come purring so close I could see their eyes 
glint. Seemed to me they sat round on their tails 
and purred because they liked a camp whar there 
was no gun-smell. They sang love songs, big 
war oongs, and all kinds of music. Fancy you 
bein' scared ! 

" Kill them? They're hard to see as ghosts, 
and every time you fire they just get absent. That 
ain't the reason though, for if the Landlord wanted 
cat's meat, I'd like to see the fight." 

'' They'd never dare to fight that giant bear ! " 
" I dunno. Eph ain't lost no cougars. He 
treats them as total strangers. 

" But the real reason I fed no mountain lions 
to Eph is mostly connected with sheep. Cougars 
does a right smart business in sheep, 'specially 
Surly Brown's. Sheep is meaner'n snakes, sheep 
men is meaner'n sheep, and if the herders disagrees 
with the cougars, give me the cougars. Sheep 
men is dirt." 
There spoke the unregenerate cowboy ! 



103 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" But Jefse dear, are you sure that Eph won't 
expect me to be ' spared ' next time he's hungry?" 

" Why, no. He was raised respectable, and 
tliere's a proper etiquette for b'ars on meeting a 
lady. It's sort of first dance-movements: — 
' general slide, pass the cloak room, and whar's 
my little Home? ' " 

N.B. — Kate and me agrees that the next chapter 
has to be cut out, being dull. It's all about the 
barn raising after we got home to the ranche. The 
neighbours put us up a fine big cabin connecting 
to the old one by a covered porch of cedar shakes. 
That's where the firewood lives, the water butt, the 
grindstone, which Kate says is exactly like my 
singing voice, likewise the axe and saw. 

Of course our house raising was a celebration, 
with a dance, camp fire, water butt full of punch, 
and headaches. I bet five dollars I was the only 
semaphore signaller in our district, and lost it to 
Iron Dale, who learned signalling five years ago 
during the Riel Rebellion. Cap Taylor put up a 
signal system for our use, of fires by night or big 
smokes by day. One means a celebration, two 
means Help, and three means War. The women 
beat the men at tug-of-war, but that was due to 
the widow's wooden leg being a rallying point for 
the battle. Eph being holed up for the winter, I 
got more popular. 

After the celebration we settled for the winter, 
and I put all the ponies except Jones and the sleigh 
team down in the canyon pasture. That made the 
ranche sort of lonesome, but we're short of hay in 
account of the wedding trip. We're broke. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR. 
I. 
Mother, I'm married. I thought I'd got Bliss 
by the horns, but seems I've not roped what I 
throwed for, and what I've caught is Trouble. I 
wish yciu weren't in Heaven, which feels kind of 
cold and distant when a fellow's lonesome. Nobody 
loves me, and the mosquitoes has mistook me for 
a greenhorn. 

I can't smoke in the Lady's home, and when it's 
forty below zero outside, a pipe clogs with ice 
from your breath. Chewing is worse, because she 
cryed. She don't need my guns, saddles, and me, 
or any sort of litter whar she beds down, and my 
table manners belongs under the table. Men she 
says, feeds sitting down, so they won't be mistook 
for animals, which stand up. 

Loyal Englishmen like the late Trevor now 
frying, has a cold bath every morning, specially in 
winter, which throws a surprising light upon' his 
last symptoms. It's that frozen manner and 
pyjamas, which makes the Englishman so durned 
popular. If I belono-ed to the Episcopal sect, 
wearing a coat in the house instead of out-of-doors, 
and used pink tooth paste instead of yellow soap, 
maybe I'd like my hash with curry powder, and 

103 



I04 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



have some hope of Roing when I die tu parts of 
heaven where the English keeps open windows, 
instead of open house. Meanwhile I jest moved 
back into the old cabin with Mick, w.iich he's 
wagging himself by the tail between my Kga to 
soy as this wr'''ng habit is a vice, ff I'd only a 
bottle of whiskc> now I'd be good, but as its t ghty 
miles to refreshments, he's got to put up with vice. 

This here storm has been running; the province 
since Monday, and making itself at home as if it 
had come to stay. Put your nose to the door and 
it's froze, so it's no fun crossing to the stable. I 
just got back. Horses like to lick white men 
because we taste salt from eating so much in our 
bacon, but th.it mare Jones takes liberties in 
kicking me through the door when she l.nows 
durned well it's shut. 

Mrs. Trevor's husband was an opera singer 
which mislaid his vocal cords, so settled here to be 
on his romantic lonesome, and spite his wife. He 
went loco, and mistook her for a bear; she broke 
her ankle stampeding; and I took an interest, he 
shooting me up considerable until he met with an 
accident. Then his widow married me, and I'm 
plumb disheartened. 

II. 

I was cooking slapjacks, which gives quick 
satisfaction for the time invested, when Iron Dale 
rolled in on his way home. Says my high grade 
slapjacks is such stuff as dreams are made of. 
With him quoting Scripture like that I got suspi- 



THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 105 

cious about his coming around by this ranche, 
instead of hitting straight for Sicyline. Or, that 
he owns up to something dam curious and disturb- 
ing to my fur. Thar's a stranger at Hundred Miie 
House, claiming he's come from London, England, 
to find my wife. 

On the stage sleigh from Ashcroft this person got 
froze, which mostly happens to a ti-nderfoot, who'd 
rather freeze like a man, than run behind like a 
dog. So of course he comes in handy for poor 
Doc. McGee. Our people being hale and artful 
as bears, McGee would be out of practice altogether 
but for such, so I hope he'll make good out of this 
here perishable stranger, the same being a useful 
absentee from .ny ranche. He's got a sort of 
puppy piano along, which grieves me to think our 
settlers must be getting out of dat. with such latest 
improvements, and other settlements liable to throw 
dirt in our face. Puppy pianos which tinkle isn't 
priced yet in the Hudson's Bay store catalog, 
ieems its called harpsecord, and this person plays 
It night and day, so that the ranche hands is quit, 
ting, and Cap Taylor charges him double money 
for board. I wonder what he wants with my wife 
anyhow. The missus wants me to take the sleigh 
and collect him. I dunno, but seems to my dim 
mtellecks thu would be meeting trouble halfway, 
besides robbing the Doctor and Capt. Taylor who 
done me no harm. 

in. 

This morning, after rigging a life line to the 
stable because of this continuing blizzard, I went 



io6 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



to the lady's home. She showed me a letter Dale 
brought, in Eytalian, which says the swine pro- 
poses to kiss her feet, and wallow in divine song, 
etc. His name is Salvator, so he's a Dago. She 
being white can't have any truck with such, being 
the same specie as niggers, so that's all right. 
Seems the puppy piano is for her from her beloved 
Maestro, another swine from the same litter. She's 
singing now, and it goes through my bones. Her 
voice is deep as a man's, strong as Fraser rapids, 
and I own that puppy piano appeals to my best 
instinks. As for me, my name's mud, and she 
treads in it. 

IV, 

The wind went chasing after the sun, leaving 
peace and clear stars, so this morning it must be 
sixty below zero by the way the logs are splitting. 
At noon ''"earful George transpires, dumping the 
puppy piano, and the swine with his nose in a 
muff. Tearful had capsized the sleigh over stumps 
to make his passenger run instead of arriving here 
like frozen meat, but appears it hadn't done the 
harpsecord no good. He said he'd roll his tail 
before any more music broke out, so didn't stay 
dinner. The swine was down on one knee in front 
of the missus, slobbering over her hand. She was 
kneading doe at the time, and there's some on his 
nose. 

He's got an angels-ever-bright-and-fair expres- 
sion, smiles to turn milk, dog's eyes, and a turn 
down collar. He calls her Donner Addoller-r-r- 



THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 107 

ra-ta and looks as if he hadn't had much to eat 
on the trail with Tearful, though they camped at 
Widow O'Flynn's where pie occurs whenever her 
Billy's to home. 

Kate's pleased all to pieces. Seems this gent in 
the paper collar has wrote an Opera, and there's a 
party goes by the name of Impress Ario, song and 
dance artist, putting it on the stage at London, 
tngland. The leading woman sings base, and 
that s why Kate is wanted. To the only woman on 
fcarth who sings base enough, they sends this 
dingus and the organ grinder. She says it's a 
business proposition with money in it, and wants 
me to come along to the Old Country. She'd have 
me in a collar and chain with a pink bow at my 
off ear, promenading in Strand Street. 

She's been having a rough time here, mostly 
living on wild meat without money or serva. s 
Id like well to see her happier; I know her music 
belongs to the whole world, and I've no right to 
hold her for any selfishness. If it's up to her to 
go. It s agin me to look pleased, and she shall go 
the day I believe in her call. 

She and the tinkle dingus and the swine are at 
>t full blast. He's screeching "Nil desperandum," 
she s thundering " Shut-ut the dooroh I " "Ting 

mV°"^u''^"^«^°' " ^y^ "'" P"PPy P'«"o. while 
Mick m here howls like a moonstruck wolf. I 
dunno but seems to me that when you're out at 
night between the stars and the mountains and the 
river praising God in the canyon, there's music 
reaching from your soul to the Almighty, and peace 



io8 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



descending right out of heaven. Oh Lord, speak 
to my wife, and tell her there's more love right 
here, than in all the sham passions of all the 
damned operas put together. But now she's 
following after vain swine. 



I made the Dago bed down in here, but he 
flopped over to breakfast, and they've be^r. at it 
hammer and tongs ever since. " Tinkle tankie 
ping ping pee-chee-ree-ho-O 1 Oh ! Oho ! me- 
catamiaou-ow-yow." Cougars is kittens to it, but 
I'm durned ignorant, and I notice that the Signor 
looked on while she washed up. 

I didn't sorrow with Kate persuading me to 
drive them as far as Hundred Mile. The sound 
of her voice stampedes me every time, but when 
the Dago tries to stroke my ears, he was too 
numerous, so I held his head in the bucket until 
he began to subside. I don't take to him a whole 
lot. 

From when I'd finished the horses, till nigh on 
sundown, the music tapered off, and I got more 
and more rattled. At last I walked right in. 

She'd a black dress, indecent round the shoulders, 
and a bright star on her brow. She stood with the 
swine's arms around her, until at the sight of me 
he shrank off guilty as hell. There was nary a 
flicker of shame or fear to her, but she just stood 
there looking so grand and beautiful that my breath 
caught in my throat. " Why Jesse," she said, her 
voice all soft with joy, " I'm so glad you've come 



THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 109 

to see. It's the great scene, the Renunciation. 

Come, Salvator, from ' Thy people shall be ' " 

I twisted him by the ear into my cabin, he talking 
along like a gramophone. I set him down on the 
stool, myself on the bunk, inspecting him while ' 
cut baccy, and had a pipe. If I let him fight me 
with guns, she'd make a hero of him. If I hoofed 
him into the cold or otherwise wafted him to the 
Dago paradise she'd mak a villain of me. 

" You wrote an opery," says I. 

He explains with his tongue, his eyes, and both 
paws waving around for the time it takes to boil 
eggs. I'm not an egg. 

" You give the leading woman a base voice? " 

He boiled over some more. 

" So you got an excuse for coming." 

He spread out over the landscape. 

"Thinkin'," sez I, "that she'd nothin' more 
than Trevor to guard her honour." 

More talk. 

" But you found her married with a man." 

He wanted to go alone to civilization. 

" You stay here," I says, " and Salvator, you're 
going to earn your board." 

VI. 

I ain't claiming that this Salvator actually earned 
his grub this month. He can clean stables now 
without being kicked into a curry hash; he can 
chop water holes through ice, and only parted with 
one big toe up to date; he can buck firewood if I 
tend him with spurs and quirt; but his dish-wash- 



no 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



ing needs more rehearsalsi and he ain't word perfect 
yet at scrubbing floors. He's less fractious and 
slothful since he was up ended and spanked in 
presence of a lady, but on the other hand, there's a 
lack of cheerfulness and application. He's too full 
of dumb yearnings, and his pure white soul seems 
to worry him, but then there's bucking horses for 
him to ride in spring, and first exercises in bears. 
My bear had ought to be a powerful tonic. 

I sent a cable message by Tearful George, to the 
song and dance artist who's running the Swine's 
opery, just enquiring if he'd remitted Salvator to 
collect my wife. The reply is indignant to say 
that the Swine is a liar. Likewise there's a 
paragraph in the Vancouver papers about the 
illustrious young composer, Salvator Milani, who's 
disappeared it seems into the wilds. His wife is 
desolated, his kids is frantic, the Salvatori, a musi- 
cal society, is offering rewards, which may come in 
useful, and the rest of mankind throws fits. This 
paper owns up that the departed is careless and 
absent>minded, and I just pause to observe that he 
hasn't made my bed. He'll have some quirt for 
supper. 

As to my wife she'd never believe that the Swii: : 
wasn't sent to fetch her, or that he's deserted his 
wife and family. She thinks he's a little cock 
angel, and me a cock devil. She'll have to find 
him out for herself. 

VII. 
My wife has run away with him. 



THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 



III 



VIII. 

I could pick stars like apples. Here's me with 
my pipe and dog in my home, and my dear wife 
content. The Dook of London has no more, 
except frills. I hardly know whar to begin, 'cept 
whar I left off without mentioning how they run 
away. The Illustrious didn't have the nerve so 
It was my Lady who stole over to stable in the dead 
of night, and harnessed the team so silent I never 
woke. She drove off with her trunks, the puppy 
piano, and her swine, on a bitter night with eighty 
mile ahead beiore she'd get any help if things went 
wrong. She has the pure grit, my great thorough- 
bred Lady, and it makes me feel real good to think 
of the way she followed her conscience along that 
unholy trail through the black pines. 

By dawn she put up for breakfast at O'Flynn's 
The widow had broke her leg reproaching a cow," 

'"'a p")' °»,?1^'^" '° '^'^ carpenter at Hundred 
and Fifty Mile House to get the same repaired. 
Her bed was beside the stove, with cordwood, 
water, and grub all within reach. It was real 
awkward though that the stove had petered out 
and the water bucket froze solid while she slept so 
she was expecting to be wafted before her son got 
home, when Kate arrived in time to save her from 
heaven. The Signer volunteers to make fire and 
cook grub while Kate fed and watered the team, 
so my wiie has the pleasure of chopping out a five 
foot well at Bent Creek, while this unselfish 
Cavaherio stayed in the house and got warm 



;i 



iia JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Naturally he didn't know enough to light the stove, 
until the widow threw things, and he got the coal 
oil. Then he disremembered how to soak the 
kindlings before he struck a match, so he lit the 
fuel first, then stood over pouring oil from the five 
gallon can. When the fire lep up into the can,, 
of course he had to let go, and when he seen the 
cabin all in flames, he galloped off to the woods, 
leaving the Widow O'Flynn to burn comfy all by 
herself. 

By the time Kate reaches the cabin, the open 
door is all flames; but, having the ice axe, she 
runs to the gable end, and hacks in through the 
window. The bed's burning quite brisk by then, 
but the widow has quit out, climbed to the window 
and gone to sleep with the smoke, so that Kate 
climbs in and alights on top of her sudden. The 
fire catches hold of ray wife, but she swings the 
widow through the window, climbs out, lights on 
top of her again, then takes a roll in the snow. 

When the Illustrious comes out of the woods to 
explain, d'ye think she'd listen? I can just see 
him explaining with Dago English, paws, 
shoulders, and eyes. She leaves him explaining in 
front of the burning cabin. Three days from now 
young O'Flynn will ride home with his mother's 
limb tied to the saddle strings, and if the Swine's 
alive then, he'll begin explaining again, though 
Billy's quick and fretful with his gun. 

My wife humped this widow to the barn, and 
got warm clothes from her trunks for both of them. 
She fired out her baggage and the puppy piano, 



THE ILLUSTRIOUS SALVATOR 113 

bedded down the widow in clean hay, hitched up 
the team, and hit the trail for home. 

She hadn't a mile to go before she met me, and 
rfhat with the smoke from O'Flynn's, the widow 
in the rig, and the complete absence of the Swine, 
I'd added up before she reined her team. She 
would want to cry in my arms. 

So she's in bed here, her burns dressed with oil 
from a bear who held me up once on the Skyline 
trail. It's good oil. The widow's asleep in my 
cabin, and I'm right to home with this letter wrote 
to you, Mother. I guess you know. Mummy, why 
me and my pipe and my dog are welcome now, 
which you've lived in your time and loved. 

So hoping you're in Heaven, as this leaves me 
at present. 

Yr. affect, son, 

Jesse. 






CHAPTER VI. 



ROBBERY-UNDER-ARMS. 



We have started a Visitor's Book. It opens with 
press cuttings of interviews with Professor Bohns, 
the famous archxologist, who came to examine the 
paleolithic deposits a* South Cave. Next are 
papers relating to a summons for assault, brought 
by the late Mr. Trevor against J. Smith. There 
is a letter from a big game hunter, Sir Turner 
Rounde, who came up the canyon collecting 
specimen pelts of utsus horribilis, which Jesse 
maintains is not a grizzly bear. But the gem of 
our collection is a letter of lengthy explanation 
from an eminent Italian cur, who spent a whole 
month at the ranche last winter. Nobody is more 
hospitable, or more hungry for popularity than my 
dear man, but I think that special prayers should 
be offered for his visitors. He has a motto now : — 
" Love me: love my bear, not my missus." 

My jealous hero has told the story of an old 
admirer, once my fellow student, who brought me 
a dumpy piano for which I had so starved, told me 
the news, talked shop, and would make me a prima 
donna— my life's ambition. The trap was well 
baited. Lonely, and terrified by the dread majesty 
of winter, I craved for the lights, for the crowds, 
114 



ROBBERY-UNDER-ARMS ,,5 

for my home, for my people, for my art. And 

Salvator turned out to be a mr m= • • 
H»n;,.<.ki. J *^"'^' "'* mission 

despicable, and yet no woman born can ever be 
without some little tenderness for one whose ove 
misleads him. And I who sought to read a^e^ 
to poor Jesse, learned one for myself. I am no 
Ws cT' '"' '"'T"' ^"'' P^°"'' °' 'he chains? 
world. *°' '"°'' '° •"" '''«" 'hat losi 

And yet I wonder if in Heaven there are blessed 
but weak little souls like mine, which grow weary 
a times of the harps, chafed by their%rowns o^ 
glory, bored to tears with bliss, ready to giveh aU 

" Wher!" ' "'" f "'P- '^''^' -°"'d "f human 
Where spring has come like a visitation o 
angels, where winter's loneliness is changing "o 
summer's happy solitude. I look into mirrof pfols 
and see content, lent. Oh how can civilized p^Loole 

ut'^the br.'" '""' ^'^""•'^ °' this para'Z 
Up ,n the black pines it is winter still, but all our 
towered, bayed, sculptured sunny precipice is alive 
with flowers and birds, while the sLpes'at theto 

o cha ds H- I "'i.' ''' '''^^°'" "' ^'"^ 

orchards. Here our bench pasture is a little skv 

with mangolds for stars. Down in the lower 

canyon the trees are in summer leaf. The canarTes 

are nesting the humming birds have Jus "ome 

to d'r; Tnd r ^ ' Z'T'' ^'"^ ^^ ^^endelLohn 
ourselves h ^ V"^ ' ^'' ''"''^ ^^"^-ned of 
ourselves, because the widow's reproachful eyes 



t U 



ii6 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

have found us out. We are not really and truly 
grown up. 

Why should the poor sour woman be afraid of 
fairies? But then you see I was dreadfully afraid 
of the Landlord, until emerging gaunt and haggard 
from his winter sleep, Eph came to enquire for 
treacle. He had a dish of golden syrup, bless him, 
and no baby short cf nine feet from tip to tip, 
could ever have got himself in such a mess. He 
still thinks I'm rather dangerous. 

One morning, it must have been the 26th I 
think, we had a caller, destined I fear to entry in 
our visitors' book. Jesse had ridden off to see how 
his ponies thrive on the new grass, Mrs. O'Flynn 
was redding up after breakfast, and finding myself 
in the way, I took my water colours down to Apex 
Rock, to see if one sketch would hold winter, 
spring, and summer, as viewed from the centre of 
wonderland. 

Now our house being in full view from the Apex, 
and sound travelling magically in this clear atmos- 
phere, I heard voices. Mrs. O'Flynn had a visitor, 
and I was in such a jealous hurry to share the 
gossip, that my sketch went over the cliff as I rose 
to run. A rather handsome man, in the splendid 
cowboy dress, stood by a chestnut gelding, such a 
horse aristocrat that I made sure he must sport a 
coat of arms. Moreover in a gingerly and reluctant 
way, as though under orders, he was kissing Mrs. 
O'Flynn. She beamed, bless her silly old heart ! 

Mrs. O'Flynn looks upon her truthfulness as a 



ROBBER Y-UNDERARMS 117 

quality too precious for everyday use, and so 
carefully has it been preserved that in her fifty- 
fourth year it shows no signs of wear. Hence on 
reaching the house I was not surprised to find that 
her visitor was a total stranger. 

From chivalrous respect for women— the species 
being rare on the stock range, cowboys are shy, 
usually tongue-tied. In a land where it is accounted 
ill-bred to ask a personal question, as for instance 
to enquire of your guest his name, where he comes 
from, or whither he is bound, cowpunchers take a 
pride in their reticence. They never make obvious 
remarks, ask needless questions, or interfere with 
matters beyond their concern. 

In the cattle country a visitor asked to dismount, 
makes camp or house his home, never suggesting 
by word or glance a doubt that he is welcome to 
water, pasturage, food, shelter, and warmth, so 
long as he needs to stay. I had not invited this 
man to dismount. 

Judged by these signs— chivalry, reticence, 
courtesy, Mrs. O'Flynn's guest was not a cowboy. 
His florid manners, exaggerated politeness, and 
imitation of our middle-class English speech 
stamped him Bounder, but not of the British 
breed. Later, in moments of excitement, he spoke 
New York, with a twang of music hall. 

Even in so lonely a place it is curious to 
remember that such a person should appeal to me. 
Still in his common way the man had beauty, 
carried his clothes well, moved with grace. So 
much the artist in me saw and liked, but I think 



ii8 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



no woman could have seen those tragic eyes 
without twing influenced. 

"Ah I Mrs. Smith, I believe?" he stood un> 
covered. " May I venture to ask if your husband 
is at home ? I think I had the pleasuah of knowing 
him years ago down in Texas. Did he ever 
mention his debut in an Omelette Cotillon'f " 

" He'll be back by noon." 

" Thank you, Madame. Fact is we were very 
much surprised to see your chimney smoke. We 
thought this exquisite place was quite unoccupied. 
Indeed, ah." 



'Who's 'we'?" 



Oh, we're the 



Y 



outfit, riding for General 



Schmidt. We've come in search of the spring 
feed. We were informed that Ponder's Place was 
unoccupied, open to all. Am I mistaken in 
supposing that this is Ponder's Place? " 

" It is." 

" Er — may I venture to ask if your husband 
holds squatter's rights, or has the homestead and 
pre-emption ? " 

" You may ask my husband." 

" Thank you, Madame. Our foreman instructed 
me to say that if the place proved to be occupied, 
I was to ask terms for pasturage. We've only two 
hundred head." 

" Mr. Smith will consider the matter." 

" We're camped in a little cave at the south end 
of the bench, deuced comfortable." 

Of course I know I'm a fool, and expect to be 



ROBBERY-UNDERARMS .,9 

treaeed as such. But this man claimed to have 
camped at the South Cave without passing this 
house, which was impossible. 

" Camped at South Cave," said I. " In that 
event I need not detain you. Mr. Smith no doubt 
*ill call on you after dinner. Good morning, 

But this was not to his mind, and I gathered 
vaguely that my husband was not really^wanted 
a the Bar Y camp. I even suspected that this 
v.s.,or would rather deal with m^than 4e my 
husband. It required more than a hint to secure 
his departure. "^^-w: 

biiTn"""'"'.'* "' "°°"- "" ^'"^ ^' °ff ringing. 
but at dinner he was so thoughtful that he neve; 

^^^cn noticed my cassarole, a dish he was expected 
to enjoy, and when he tried afterwards to light an 
empty p.pe I saw that there was something wrong. 
He received the story of our caller with the noises 
of one displeased. "That visitor, Kate," he 
summed up, " would make a first class stranger. 
K-new me you say in Texas? " 

Hearing from her kitchen Mrs. O'Flynn's sharp 
grunt of dissent, I dosed the door 
. " You've left the keyhole open," said Jesse 
rising from the table, " come for a walk." 

fh. A o^'^'" '^^"^ ^^^^ ^^' '^°^" beside me on 
essonC kh'- J''^ '"°'-" y°" ^°' y°"' fi^st 

lid Can T.'- J^°* "°"''' y°" '"^« ^ V'«" to 
Old Cap Taylor at Hundred Mile? " 

Uanger? I asked. 



120 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" I dunno as there's actual danger, but if I jest 
knowed you was safe, I'd be free to act prompt." 

" Tell me everything, Jesse." 

" Up at the north end of the bench, there's 
maybe two hundred head of strange cattle. One 
pedigree shorthorn bull is worth all of twenty-five 
hundred dollars, and there's a Hereford stud I'd 
take off my hat to anywheres. There's Aberdeens 
or Angus— I get them poll breeds mixed, and a 
bunch of Jerseys grazing apart, purty as deer. 
Anyways, that herd's worth maybe two hundred 
thousand dollars, every hoof of 'em stolen, and if 
you raked all them millionaire ranches in California 
I doubt you'd get that value." 

" How do you know they're stolen? " 

" No stock owner needs that amount of prize 
cattle. We don't raise such in the north, so 
they've been drifted in here from the States. 
They're gaunt with famine and driving, and it 
beats me to think how many more's been left dead 
crossing the Black Pine country. The Bar Y 
brands has been faked. The parties herding 'em 
waits till I'm away, and tries to make a deal with 
you for pasturage. The gent with the sad eyes is 
sent dressed up to fool a woman." 

" But how could even robbers collect such a 
wonderful herd? " 

" Kate, in them Western States there's just 
about four hundred cow thieves working together, 
which you'll see them advertised in the papers 
robbing coaches, trains, pay for mining camps, or 



ROBBERY-UNDERARMS i2i 

now and again some bank. Still that's jj.-.; vaca- 
tions, and the main business is lifting . attle. 

" Ye see Kate, they'd collect an occa io/ial stud, 
such as these here imported thorough'urcUi, for. 
good to lose, too well known to sell, too hot to 
hold. They'd keep 'em in some hid up pasture. 
But sometimes the people prods the sheriffs to get a 
move on, or Uncle Sam sends pony soldiers to 
play hell with the sovereign rights of them holy 
Western States. Then the robbers is apt to scatter 
down in store clothes, for a drunk at Frisco. 
This time I seen in the papers that Uncle Sam is 
rounding up his robbers, so naturally the pick of 
their stealings requires hiding. They'd drive 
north for the British Possessions, but on the Plains 
there's too much Mounted Police, whereas this 
British Columbia has one district Constable to a 
district the size of the Old Country. Yes, they'd 
come to this Province, and this here ranche of ours 
is a sort of North Pole to the stock range. Since 
old man Ponder quit out, and I squatted, only the 
neighbours know that the ranche is claimed. 

" Now Kate," his great strong arm closed round 
me like a vice. " The hull country knows you're 
clear grit, so there's no shame in leaving. For 
my sake, dear " 

" Do you think I'd leave you in danger? " 

He sighed. " I knew it. I cayn't help it, and 

Kate, it's truth, I'd rather see you dead than 

scared. There's Madame Grizzly, and Seilora 

Cougar, there's Lady Elk, and even Mrs. Polecat 



123 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

brave as lions. I'd hate to have my mate the only 
one to run like a scalded cat." 

" The programme, Jesse? " 

" Do you remember, Kate, how we lost five 
dollars finding out that Dale and me is signallers?" 

"And Captain Taylor gave us the signals to 
raise the district : one fire for feasts, two for help, 
three for war ! " 

" That's it, little woman. By dusk I'll be on 
top of the cliffs, and make my fires back from the 
rim rock, where them robbers won't see the glare." 



CHAPTER Vir. 



THE ROUND-UP. 
I. 

While I made signal fires on the top of the cliff, 
Mr. Robber came to find out from my wife why 
for I hadn't called to leave my card at the South 
Cave. He's picturesque, says she, hair like a 
raven's wing, eyes steel blue, scarf indigo striped 
with orange, shirt black silk, woolly shaps out of 
a Wild West show, gold and silver fixings, 
Cheyenne saddle, carbine of some foreign breed, 
or maybe a Krag, manners fit for a king, age 34, 
height 6 feet, 2 inches, chest only 38, and such a 
sad smile— all of this will be useful to the police. 

He tried all he knew to get out of being photo- 
graphed, which I wisht I'd been there, for it must 
have been plumb comic, but we all submits when 
Kate gets after us. That reminds me that if he 
can't capture the camera and plate, we're apt to be 
burnt out by accident. 

She led him on, and made him talk. If his boss 
knew how much Kate has down in her notebook, 
this guy with the sad eyes would get kicked all 
round the pasture. When I axed if the robber 
made love to her, my wife just laughed, and turned 
away, telling me not to be a fool; but the blush 
came round her neck. 

123 



124 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



I dunno. Perhaps it's my liver, so I'm taking 
the only medicine I have, which it tastes like 
liniment. Is it liver, or am I getting to dislike 
this person ? 

II. 

So happens while I was writing Billy O'Flynn 
comes along with the pack outfit on his way to 
Skyline. He wanted to know why I made them 
fires, so I explained I was making a clearing up 
thar for Kate's spring chrysanthemums. (She 
spelt tha ; word, whii^h had be bogged down to the 
hocks.) It may be liver, or my squeam inflamed, 
but my mind ain't easy, and the Skyline folk may 
think I'm only joshing with them fires. 

I can't leave Kate to ride for help, I can't shift 
her, I can't send Billy to the constable without 
breaking my contract with the Skyline, and I don't 
divulge nothin' to William O'Flynn, Esquire, who 
talks to the moon rather than waste conversation. 

If I make a letter for Dale, and slip it into the 
pouch, Billy won't know, or gossip if he happens 
to meet in with stray robbers. I'll get him up 
and off by midnight, to the Skyline in time for the 
supper pies, and the boys will be surging down to 
the Ferry before, to-morrow midnight. Now I 
must make up some lies to hasten Billy's timid 
footsteps along the path of duty. 

III. 

Billy hastenea away at midnight to tell Dale that 
pigeons' milk is selling at 84J. He believes that 
if he can get that secret intelligence to Iron in 
good time, he's to share the profits. Fact is, that 



THE ROUND-UP 



125 



Iron's late wife made him the laughing stock of the 
Plains over some joke she put up on him connected 
with pigeons' milk, so that Billy's share of the 
profits will be delivered on the toe of Dale's boot. 
He's breaking records to make the Skyline quick. 
Nothing happened this morning, except Bull 
Durham, calling himself Brooke. He's the gent 
with the sad eyes, who came to make love to my 
wife. He paid me one hundred dollars for pas- 
turage. Then 1 axed him to stay dinner, and Kate 
says she never seen me so talkative. Bull found 
out which weeks the Cariboo stage carries specie, 
and how many thousand dollars a month in 
amalgam comes down from the Skyline camp. He 
even dragged out of me that old Surly Brown the 
miser has fifteen thousand dollars buried under the 
dirt floor of his cabin— which reminds me that if 
Brown's home becomes the scene of a mining 
stampede, I'll have to keep shy of his rifle. I 
owned up that our provincial constable is in bed 
with the mumps at Alexandria— temperature of a 
hundred and six in the shade. I sort of hinted that 
he was prejudiced agin me for belonging to the 
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and 
because I was suspected of adopting poor dumb 
driven cattle which had happened to stray within 
range of my branding iron. He even learned I'd 
rode for the Lightning outfit, and from this jumps 
on to the conclusion I must have belonged once to 
the Tonto gang of outlaws. This might account 
for me being hid up here in the British Possessions. 
Our mutual acquaintance, even at Abilene, was all 






126 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



candidates for the gallows, or such of the dear 
departed as had been invited to the hereafter by 
Judge Lynch. Yes, he showed a great gift of 
faith, and got both his photo and the negative to 
show there was no ill feeling. I'm pastoral, harm- 
less, simple, raised for a pet. 

Leaving Kate hid in a ruin^'d shack, half way 
to the ferry, I was down by ii p.m. to the bank of 
the river, hailing old man Brown. So soon as he'd 
brung me acrost, I sent him to ride for all he was 
worth and collect our constable, which cost me 
eighteen dollars and a horse. The money is 
severe, but I 11 get even on horse trades. 

From midnight to one a.m. I put in the time 
cussing Dale; from then till two a.m. I felt that 
nobody loved me; from two a.m. to half past, I 
was scheming to take the robbers single-handed. 
.\t 2-35 Dale rolled in with nine men from Skyline, 
mounted on Billy's ponies, beside.^ O'Flynn, and 
Ransome Pollock, who may be good for a burnt 
offering, but ain't much use alive. 

Of course having raised the country, I'd got to 
make good, producing a business proposition and 
robbers to follow. Iron has no sense of humour 
anyhow, and can't see jokes unless the prices is 
wrote plain on their tickets. He's come to this 
Earth after dollars. If a batch of robbers is liable 
to cost him fifty dollars a day, and only fetches 
fifty-one dollars a day on the contract, his mine is 
better money, so he rolls his tail and takes away 
his men. That's Iron Dale seven days in the 
week. 



THE ROUND-UP 127 

He's right smart too at holding a business 
meeting, so when I'd ate cranberry pie, which is a 
sort of compliment from the mine, and the boys 
has some of Brown's tea as a donation from me, 
the convention sits down solemn to talk robbers. 

Moved and seconded that hold ups ain't en- 
couraged in Her Majesty's Dominions, and we 
hands these robbers to the constable as his lawful 
meat, but we got to get 'em first. 

Resolved that there's money in it. The owners 
of them cattle had ought to be grateful and show 
their gratitude, 'cause otherwise the stock is apt to 
scatter. Proposed that we hit the trail right away, 
with Iron Dale for leader. Carried with symptoms 
of toothache disabling one of his men 

Dale told off O'Flynn and Branscombe to stam- 
pede the cattle just at glint of dawn, sending 'em 
past the cave, and shooting and yelling as if there 
was no hereafter. 1 hat should interest the robbers, 
and bnng them out of the cave which overlooks our 
pasture. Looking down at a sharp angle, they 
weren t l.kely to hit our riders, whereas our posse, 
posted ,n good cover with a steady aim, could 
attend to the robbers with promptness and despatch. 
Crossmg the ferry our main outfit left Billy and 
Branscombe to start drifting the cattle southward, 
while we rode on to take up our positions around 
IlhTl, f '!'' ''^*" """"'"^ °"' «"d Kate alone 

Dal^t'i^K M ^^"'"^ '*'" •'°y' '° S^"°P' whereas 
Dale sa d he'd no use for broken legs. The night 

was dark as a wolf's mouth. ^ 

In the ruined shack, half way to our home, Kate 



,28 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

was to have a candle, screened so that it could 
only be seen from our trail. As soon as we rose 
the edge of the bench, and a mile before we would 
reach the shack, I seen the candle and knew that 
she was safe. We passed my fence, we crossed 
the half mile creek, we gathered speed along the 
open pasture, and then Kate's yell went through 
me like a knife. The robbers must have had a 
man on night herd, and found her by that light 1 
Dale's hand grabbed my rein, and with a growl 
he halted our whole outfit. " Steady," says he, 
" you fool 1 " Then in a whisper, as his men 
came crowding in, " dismount ! Ransome hold 
horses! Sam, take three men afoot round the 
rear of that cabin. I take the rest to close in the 
front. Siwash, and Nitchie Scott find enemy's 
horses and drift them away out of reach. No man 
to whisper, no man to make a sound, until I lift 
my hand at that cabin window. After that kill 
any man who tries to escape. Get a move on 1 " 
So, with me at his tail, he crept along from 
cover to cover, waving hand signals to throw his 
squad into place. The enemy's five horses at the 
door were led off by Billy's Siwash arriero, and 
Nitchie Scott, so gently that the robbers thought 
they was grazing. By that time Dale and me was 
at the window gap on the north side of the shack, 
but the candle was in our way, we couldn't see 
through its glow, and it wasn't till we got round 
to the door hole that we'd a view of what was going 
on inside. 



THE ROUND-UP ,23 

smile, wuh his gun muzzle in her right ear. was 

beS?„ "^"^"^'•.^'^P'aining how hs ta.t was 
better n Wh.skers' gun at persuadinj^ /emales. 
Gmger was trymg to assuage Bull. The Grease 
was keeping a kind of look out, although he 
couldn't see from the lighted room into the dark 

tlvs Z ru ,'''"''^' '^'^PP^'' •''^ P-' over 
Bu 1 s mouth, before the proceedings went on. 

Now," says Whiskers sadly, "are you ^oin' 
to scream any more?" ««re you gom 

Kate's face was dead white with rage. " You 
cur, sa.d she, ■' I screamed because my-you're 

hear'lr '°H '/"'^ ' ^^^^^ "'^ '^ ^^ -"" " 

better NnT ^•°"' ""'■ ^^^' °^ ^ That's 
oeuer. No, I won't scream again." 

The gun sight was tearing her ear as she screwed 

her head round, looking him full in the eyes "if 

you do me any harm," she said, " my husband's 

you. stand back, you coward I " 

He flinched back just a little, and I saw his hand 
drawing slowly clear of her head. 

Get your horses," she cried out sharp, "you've 
barely time to escape I " ^' ^ ^ 

Then I fired, the bullet throwing that hand back 

ho we " r'Ti '" ''' ^""- H.7 revo^^e; 
shot^ went through the rear wall. The hand w.. 



'Now hands up, all of 



you ! " Dale yelled. 






130 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

"Hands up I Drop your guns." One of the 
robbers was raising his gun to fire, s j I had to kill 
him. The rest surrendered. 

" Kate," said I, sort of quiet, and she came to 
me. 



CHAPTER VIII, 
THE STAMPEDE. 

Being married to a lady, and full of dumb yearn- 
ings for reform, I axed Dale when he was down to 
Vancouver to dicker for a book on Etiquette. 
Deportment for Gents" being threw at a police, 
man and soiled, Dale only paid six bits; but I 
tossed him double or quits, and come out all right 
As to the book, it's wrote mighty high and severe 
by Professor Aaron E. Honeypott, but when I tried 
some on my wife, she laughed so she rolled on the 
floor. I know now that when I sweats at a dance 
I m not to hang my collar on the chandileer, or 
press bottled beer on my partner. If ever I get to 
a town I'm to take the outside of the sidewalk, 
wipe my gums on the mat, and wash before I use 
hem roller towels. But it doesn't say when I'm 
H„r^' ""y boots inside my pants, or how old 
i!.y^u 7^ ^'"'°"* ''^^'"g t° spi'. °r what 
n T^J^!"'- ^u"*' ^'"^^ ""« '" 'he morning, or 
in deadfall timber, or when a bear dislikes me or 
any usual accident in this Vale of Tears; and there 
am t one word about robbers. 

Which these robbers we got in the cave is a 
d^appomtment. This old man what leads them 
with a plume on his face, ought to have more 

131 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



13a 

deportment, for screwing a gun in Kate's ear ain't 
no sort of manners. Even after I'd shot his hand 
to chips, he grabbed Ransome's gun with his left, 
and tried to make me lie down. There's some 
folks jest don't know when you give them a hint. 
And Bull, with the sad eyes, ought to comport 
himself around like a Honeypott, seeing the way 
he was raised, and how he claims on me his ancient 
friendship. While we lashed his thumbs behind 
him, he told us he'd been educated at Oxford and 
Cambridge. 

"What I" Kate flashed out, "after leaving 
Eton and Harrow? " 

" Yes, and I've enough education to guess this 
ain't no way to treat Amurrican citizens. You'll 
hear of this," he shouted, " from Uncle Sam I " 
" Thar," says Dale, " I knew there'd be rewards 
for you, dead or alive. How much? Two 
thousand dollars a head? " 

Then old Whiskers ordered this Bull to shut 
his head. He'd a curious slow mournful voice, 
like a cat with toothache. 

" I demand " 

" Shut up." 

So Bull shut up while we lashed him, likewise 
young Ginger and the Greaser. Seeing the fellow 
I'd killed might want an inquest, we laid him 
straight in the ruined shack, and then marched 
our prisoners off to South Cave, where they'll wait 
until we get our Constable to arrest them. 
II. 
Now on the second day after we captures these 



THE STAMPEDE 



'33 



ladrones, along towards supper, the depositions of 
the various parties is as follows, viz. :— 

Up to the ruined shack two mile north of my 
home, lies the remains of i robber expecting an 
inquest. Two miles south, right where the upper 
cliff cuts off the end of our pasture, there's our cave 
full of captured bandits to wit; Whiskers, Bull 
Durham, Ginger, and the Dago. Down on the 
bench in front of the cave is our guard camp with 
Iron Dale in command, and Kate with the boys 
having supper. Right home at the ranche house 
is me finishing my chores, and the widow spoiling 
hash for my supper, because she hates me worse 
nor snakes, for being a Phrotestant. Away off 
beyond the horizon is old man Brown cussing blue 
streaks 'cause he can't find much constable. 

Such being the combinations at supper time, 
along comes the widow's orphan, young Billy 
O'Flynn, who handles my pack contract with the 
Skyline. He's supposed to be on duty at the 
guard camp, and his riding back to the home 
ranche completely disarranges the landscape. I'm 
busy, hungry, and expected to take charge of the 
night guard at the cave, but somehow this Billy 
attracts my attention by acting a whole lot suspi- 
cious. Instead of bringing me some message from 
Dale, he rides straight to the lean-to kitchen, steps 
off his pony, and whispers for his mother. I 
sneaks through the house to the kitchen in time to 
see this widow with a slip of paper, brown paper 
what we used to wrap up the prisoners' lunch. At 
sight of me she gets modest, shoving it into the 



134 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

stove, but I becomes prominent, and grabs it. 
" Shure," she explains, " an it's only a schlip av 
paper I " 

Seems to be scratches on the smooth side of this 
paper, sort of reminding me that Bull has a 
fountain pen sticking out of his vest pocket. If 
he's been writing with milk, I'd warm the paper- 
but no, we use canned milk, and haven't got any 
either. I've heard faintly somewheres of things 
wrote in spittle, so I pours on a bottle of ink, and 
rinses the paper in the water butt. Yes, there's 
the message plain as print. 

" Gun to hand, but cartridges wrong size, no 
good. Get .45. Billy to wait with ponies under 
nearest pine N. of cave, when plough above N. 
Star. Send more gum for chief's wound. — Bull" 
Billy was mounting at the door to put out for 
solitude, but since he knows I can't miss under two 
hundred yards, he was persuaded to come into the 
cabin. There I read him some of the etiquette 
about keeping his temper, and not using coarse 
language. Also I told him politely what I thought 
of him, and where he'll go when he dies. He 
waited, stroking the little fur on his muzzle, till I 
got through, looking so damned patient with me, 
that I came near handing him one in the eye. 
" You invited these robbers to my grass? " 
He nodded. 

" Thanks to you my wife had a gun muzzle 
screwed round in her ear." 

" Bet she squinted ! " said Billy. 



THE STAMPEDE 



«3; 



If I lose my temper, I can' shoot, and Billy 
knew that well. " She's up agin it good and 
hard," said he. 

"Agin what?" 

" Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear." 

" You lop eared, mangy, pig-faced, herring- 
gutted son of a " 

" From the Etiquette ? " asked Billy. " I don't 
think much of you anyway. Mother ain't got no 
use for you either, or any of the neighbours, you 
old cow thief." 

Now if Billy talked so big as all that, it must be 
to astonish his mother. So she must be at the 
keyhole, and sure enough I heard her grind her 
stump with the- backache from stooping down. 
Happens Mrs. Smith has a garden squirt which it 
holds a quart, so while I kep young Billy interested 
with patches of etiquette, I took off the rose, filled 
the squirt, and let drive through the keyhole into 
the widow's ear. At that she lifted up her voice 
and wept. 

Feeling better, I resumed the conversation. 
" Billy," sez I, smooth as cream, while I filled the 
squirt, " on the shelf thar you'll find a little small 
bottle." In my dim way I aimed to get him 
excited, and talkative, divulging secrets with all 
his heart. Then afterwards I'd like him asleep 
out of mischief. 

" Get your bottle yourself," says he, sort of 
defiant, so I let drive at him with the squirt. 

" If you please," said I, and he got the bottle 
all right. 



136 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" If you don't mind," said I, " will you just 
draw the cork? " 

"And if I won't?" 

I took my squirt, and watched him pull the 
cork. 

" Thank you," sez I, seeing how beautiful is the 
uses of true politeness. " Now may I trouble you 
to spill what's left in the bottle into that there 
goblet? Now be so kind." 

" I refuse! " 

The Squirt won't scare any more Billy, so I 
exhibits my gun. 

" I regrets to remark Mr. O'Flynn, that this 
gun acts sort of sudden." 

" Shoot, and you go to gaol I " 

" But first my dear young friend, I've time to 
lop o£F a few fingers, one at a time — won't miss 
them all at once. May I request you to pour out 
the medicine? No — not on the floor please, but 
into the goblet, while I observe that your right 
thumb seems tender after that cut, and ought to 
be treated. So, a little more. That's right. Now 
honour me by adding a little water from the 
pitcher. Thank you. Thumb feeling easier? 
Well that there laudanum soothes the fractious 
infant, and causes a whole lot of repose. Quite 
sweet without sugar. Yes please, you'll lift the 
goblet to your mouth while I watch that nothing 
goes wrong with your pug nose. You want to 
throw back your head, you treacherous swine. 
Drink, or I'll splash your brains on the floor 1 " 

"I daren't I It's Poison I " 

" It's bullets— you'd better I Drink, or I'll kill 



THE STAMPEDE 



137 



you I Drink! One— two— much obliged, I'm 
sure. Hope you'll sleep well." 

" Curse you I " he shrieked, and flung the glass 
at my head. 

Then down came the widow like a landslide. 
She scratched my face, confessed my sins, sobbed 
over her darling Billy avick, prescribed for my 
future, wrung her wet frock, and made a soap 
emetic for her offspring all at once. It's a sure 
fact that widow was plenty busy, and what with 
slinging the emetic at the patient, and gently 
introducing the lady to the kitchen cupboard, wall, 
I declare I didn't have a dull moment. Then 
distant shots brought us up all standing. 
"At last I " Billy shouted, " they're off I " 
"Who's off?" 

" Father and his men— escaped while I kep you 
in talk. Fooled, Jesse! Fooled I I fooled you 
to the eyes ! My father's Larry O'Flynn, Captain 
Larry O'Flynn, Captain of the Outlaws I " My 
there was pride in the lad ! He sat on the table 
in the dusk, fighting to keep awake, rubbing his 
eyes with his sleeve. " He's give me leave to 
join, and I'm hitting the trail to-night— hitting the 

^'^h^'r ''^"^" "'^ ^y^^ '^'°«"^' ""'s voice 
tailed off to a whisper, and then once more he 
roused. "I'm a wolf!" he howled, "I come 
from Bitter Creek ! The higher up the worse the 
waters, and I'm from the source I Robbery under 
arms, and don't you forget it. Mister Jesse Smith !" 
He rocked from side to side, gripping hard at the 
table, muttering threats. 



138 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Outside I could hear a rider coming swift, and 
Dale's voice hailing " Jesse! Jesse 1 " 

" Jesse," the lad was muttering, " lift his stock, 
and his woman, burn his ranche, and put his fires 
out — thatsh the way to " 

Dais had stepped from his horse, and stood in 
the doorway, making it dark inside. " Where in 
blazes are you? " 

" Look," said I, and Dale watched, for the boy 
dead pale, was lurching from side to side, his eyes 
closed, his lips still moving. 

" Only drugged," said I. " Who let them 
robbers escape? " 

" Ransome Pollock," said Dale. 

"Who else?" 

" Dave." 

"How's his poor tooth?" says I, and Dale 
explained he'd been clubbed. 

Young O'Flynn rolled over, and went down 
smash, so that I had to kneel, and try if his heart 
was all right. It thumped along steady, and give 
no sign of quitting. 

" I had to," said I, " old Whiskers yonder is 
the widow's husband, and father to this boy. He's 
clear grit, Iron." 

" Where's the widow ? " 

" Resting." I heard horses come thundering 
out of the dusk. " Robbers broke south ? " 

" Yep." 

" Hev they grow'd wings? " 

" Nope." 

" Can't swim the Fraser? " 



THE STAMPEDE 



•39 



" Bottled? " said he, cheering up. 

" Some," says I. " Not corked yet. You want 
to make a line here quick, from the foot of the 
upper cliff to the edge of the river, and each man 
make three big fires. Then post half your men to 
tend fires, and the best shots to hold that line with 
rifles. Them robbers has got to break through 
when they knows they're cornered. Here's your 
boys, Iron. Git a move on ! " 

" That's so," says Dale, and in two shakes of a 
duck's tail he was throwing his men into line. 
Seems that some of the boys rode the robbers' 
horses, and the rest were bareback on my pack 
ponies, so Kate had a fine gallop home with the 
mob. But when she saw what I'd prescribed for 
Billy's symptoms, she wasn't pleased, and by the 
time she'd made herself content, I had to be off on 
duty. Meanwhile the widow, wild and lone, had 
flew ; so that left Kate without help, her job being 
coffee to keep the boys awake till we'd daylight to 
corner the robbers. 

J*°n watching on a strain like that get scary as 
catSi so by moon-set some of our warriors would 
loose off guns at stumps, trees, rocks, or just 
because they felt lonesome. After the moon went 
down, dry fuel got scant, so that the fires waned, 
and some of our young men must have seen 
millions of outlaws. When at last something 
actually happened, it was natural that Ransome 
should have adventures. He wasn't built for 
solitude, and when he seen a flag wave from behind 
a bush, he called the boys from the left and right 



m'\ 



I40 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



to bunch in and corroborate. The flag kep' 
waving, and presently two more of our men had to 
join the bunch because they couldn't shout their 
good advice, lest the robbers hear every word. I 
was away to Apex Rock, Iron down in the canyon, 
and these blasted idiots talked. 

Of course old Whiskers knew that antelope will 
always creep up to inspect any waving rag. Before 
the excitement was properly begun, he and his 
robbers slipped through our broken line. 

If Ransome has time to aim, he's dangerous to 
the neighbours, but since the odds were a thousand 
to one the gun would kick him as far as next 
Thursday, I'd have bet my debts he wouldn't hit 
the party with that flag. Yet that's what happened. 
He got the Widow O'Flynn. 

With one heart-rending, devastating howl she 
went to grass, and she did surely shriek. Murd- 
thered in the limb she was, and as I left to follow 
the sounds of them escaping robbers, I didn't have 
time to send a carpenter. 



CHAPTER IX. 
THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER. 

With creditors, women, robbers, and everything 
dangerous, you want to be chuck full of deport- 
ment, smooth as old Honeypott, and a whole lot 
tactful. Anything distractful or screeching dis- 
turbs one's peace of mind, and sends one's aplomb 
to blazes, , ,st when a bear trap may happen at any 
moment. I travelled for all I was worth to put 
that widow behind me, and compose my mind. 

Which her wolf howls was plumb deplorable. 
It wasn't her limb. Indeed, she wanted excuses 
for a new one ever since she seen that table limb 
in my barn. It was her husband Whiskers, de- 
parting desperate to get away from her. And I 
don't blame him. She was an irreverent detail 
anyhow, diminishing gradual into the night, for if 
I let them robbers once get out of hearing, they 
couldn't be tracked till morning. The worst of it 
was I'd no smell dog, my Mick, being sick with a 
cold and hot fermentations, had his nose out of 
action. No, the only thing was to get clear of the 
widow's concert, and keep in hearing while the 
outlaws travelled. I was laying a trail of torn 
paper, mostly unpaid bills, so that the boys could 
find which way I'd gone. 

Maybe I'd gone a mile before remorse gnawed 
Ml 



142 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Whiskers because he'd abandoned the widow. He 
paused, and as I came surging along, he lammed 
me over the head. 

Yes, I was captured. They got my gun too, 
and marched me along between them. Mr. Bull, 
he yapped like a coyote, full of glory 'sif he'd 
captured me himself. What with being clubbed, 
and not feeling good just then, I didn't seem to 
be much interested, although I put up a struggle 
wherever the ground was muddy, leaving plenty 
tracks down to the ferry, so that the boys would 
know which way I'd been dragged. 

Old man Brown was away, but as I'd left the 
scow on the near bank, the robbers were able to 
cross, and put the Fraser between me and rescue. 
That ought to have cheered them up, since it give 
them a start of several hours towards safety, but 
instead of skinning out of British Columbia as I 
advised them with powerful strong talk, they'd 
got to stop for breakfast, on Brown's beans and 
sowbelly, cussing most plenteous because he wasn't 
there to cook hot biscuits. After breakfast they 
wasted an hour dressing his paw for old Whiskers, 
and wondering whether they'd wast>; one of my 
cartridges on me, or keep them all for my friends. 
On that I divulged a lot of etiquette out of my 
book. I told these misbegotten offspring they'd 
been brung up all wrong, or they'd have enough 
deportment to make tracks. " Now," says I, "in 
the land of the free and the home of the brave you 
been appreciated, whereas if you linger here till 
sun-up you'll be shot." 



THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER 143 

That made poor Whiskers still more suspicious, 
wondering what sort of bear traps guileful Smith 
was projecting. " Wants to get us up on the 
bench," says he, " that means ware traps. We'll 
stay right here, boys, for daylight, when we'll be 
able to see ourselves, how to save them cattle." 
" We'd better kill the prisoner," Bull argues, and 
this reminds me of his ancient friendship. 

" Shut your fool head," says Whiskers. " His 
friends would rather us go free than see him killed 
before their eyes. You've no more brains than a 
poached owl." 

"You're dead right, Whiskers I " says I, 
" Hair on you I " 

But he being fretful with his wound, orders his 
iT-^n to disable Brown's fiddle, and lash me up 
with catgut. Moreover when I was trussed, this 
Bull seen fit to kick me on the off chance, a part 
which ain't referred to in polite society, especially 
with a boot. 

" Brave man I " says I, and the rest of them 
robbers was so shamed they got me a gag. 

" Sorry," says I, " pity I won't be able to guide 
you to Brown's cigars. He keeps a bottle too." 

" Where are they? " says Bull. 

" Gag Brooke," said I, for Bull went by that 
name, " and I'll divulge the drinks." 

" Gag Brooke," says Whiskers, cheering up a 
little, " pity he weren't born gagged." 

So they gagged Mr. Brooke, and mounted him 
on sentry while they had Brown's bottle of whiskey 
and cigars. I got some too. 



144 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Of course these or'nary no account range wolves 
reckoned my friends would wait for day before they 
attempted tracking. Whereas Dale got the lantern, 
found my paper trail, and guessed at the ferry. 
Before we entered the cabin, I'd seen the glint of 
that lantern behind the rim of the bench, and I 
knew our boys trusted me to keep the robbers 
somehow down at the ferry house. Ginger and 
the Greaser lay down for an hour's sleep, Mr. 
Brooke gagged, and not at all pleased, kep' guard 
at the door. Whiskers since the liquor made his 
wound worse, lurched groaning around the shack. 
At the first glint of dawn, he ordered Bull to take 
out the gag and lie down, then went to the door 
himself. 

It's a pity that Dale, our leader, a sure fine shot, 
has a slight cast in his near eye, which throws his 
lead a little to the right. That's why, when 
Whiskers went to the door. Dale's bullet only 
whipped off his left ear. Instead of being grateful. 
Whiskers skipped around holding the side of his 
face, with remarks which for a poor man was 
extravagant. The shot made Bull bolt courageous 
behind the stove, to look for a bandage he said, 
while Ginger and the Greaser sat up on their tails 
looking sort of depressed. Not one of the four 
was happy on finding that they'd bottled them- 
selves in the cabin, instead of tak ? my advice 
and clearing for the States. 

" Prisoner," says Whiskers, dolesome, holding 
his poor ear, " you can talk to your friends acrost 
the river? " 



THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER 145 

" Why certainly, Captain." 
"What way?" 

" Signalling." 

" Then tell your friends that if they don't throw 
all their guns into the river, vou die at sunrise. 
Have you got religion ? " 
^^ "I didn't mention," says I, sort of thoughtful, 

that any of my friends can read the signals." 

" Then," says he. in that suicide manner he 
had, they won't get your last sad words. Get 
them weapons thrown in the river, or grab religion 
right away, for you'll need it." 

" Cut the catgut, Colonel." 

So Ginger cut me free. 

" Show a white flag, General," said I. 

So Ginger waved a paper on a stick, and Dale 
replied with the white scarf from his neck. 

When I walked out, the boys acrost the river 
gave three cheers, but I was halted from behind 
before I'd got far sideways. " Now," says Whis- 
kers, signal, and pray that you won't be tempted 
to send "rroneous messages." 

" Remember," Bull shouts, " I can read Morse. 
No fooling." 

"All right, Mr. Brooke," I called back, " then 
1 11 use semaphore." 

I heard Whiskers in tears directing his two 
youngsters to put Mr. Brooke's head in the meal 
sack, and sit hard on top. So I began to signal, 
explaining each word to Whiskers. 

Swim. " That," says I, " means ' Dale.' " 



■'P 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



146 

Pool. " That's ' fool,' " says I, " because he 
don't give the answer." 
Below. " That's ' Hello.' " 
Rapids. " That's * Hello ' again." 
" You lie," says Whiskers miserable, through 
his teeth. " You made six letters." ^^ 

" Sorry," says I, "it got spelt wrong first time. 
Float. " That's ' Skunk ' ''_ says I, " because 
he's a polecat not to answer me." 
Guns. 

" What's that? " asked Whiskers, heaps suspi- 
cious because I couldn^t think of another word of 
four letters. " Hell t " says I. 

" Quite right," sighed Whiskers, " to think of 
your future home." 
Dale signalled coming. 

" Says he's ready for the Epistle and Gospel 
now. Spit it out, Whiskers." 

" Tell him to throw his guns in the river, or I U 
shoot prisoner. And what's more young man, you 
don't want to call me Whiskers." 

I wagged all that, word for word, as far as 

' Whiskers,' and when the boys were through 

laughing. Dale asked if the robbers were serious. 

I explained to the General that Dale wouldn't wet 

good guns to please a lot of " 

" Lot of what? " 

" Terms of endearment," says I, " which I 
blushes for Dale's morals." 

Dale signalled keep your tail up. 
" Well, General," says I, " without being able 
to read him exact, I guess Dale ain't drawing his 



THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER .47 

men off along the bank for your outfit to shoot 
them like rabbits the moment they quit cover " 
_ '■ Tell Dale," said Whiskers in his tired voice, 
he needn t trouble to take his men along the bank 

reli'*" '"^^."" **'"' ""* "''^'- ^°* 'f y^" had 

I could have choked with grief. 

;• Tell Dale," says Whiskers, and his bereaved 
voice kind of jarred me now, " we're just goin't 
to keep a gun at your earhole while we march up 

A i. If Dale's men fire, your wife will be a 
widow, Mr. Smith." 

At that I wagged my arms. " No call to get 
WET, Holdups marching to Gkorgia. Kill 

MAN WITH GUN. If you MISS. WARE WIDOW 

SMfTH. You see if Dale squinted and missed, my 
widow was apt to reproach. So I added allow 

WINDAGE FOR SQUINT. 

Dale answered, you bet youR life i will 

thJh*" ^> T"^ '°""*' '"'='"« the cabin, and saw 
the barrel of my own revolver just peering round 
he door. By its height from the gr^nd I judged 
t h«n" ^Tf, 9'"^*' *^ "»« «"'«'■ I wished 
" w ,?" ^""' '°' ^'^ '^'«'" * f«"<=y '" Ginger. 

the ha rack. All aboard for Robbers' Roost, and 
don t forget the lunch." 

Talking encourages me, and it seemed even 
betting whether me or Ginger was booked right 

I'tnger, and for me a little, even persuading the 






148 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



robbers to take no risks. I forgot how them sort 
of cattle drives by contraries. I only set their 
minds on coming, and heard their boss give orders. 

He wanted me into the cabin, but I'd taken a 
dislike to catgut, so Ginger got orders to shoot me. 
At that I flared up. " Shoot," says I, " you 
skulking cowards, scared to show your noses at the 
door. Hold your off ear. Whiskers. Charge, you 
curs I •• 

The chief came first, straight at me, and seemed 
to climb over my foot on to his nose. Mr. Bull 
Brooke got hurt on the hose too, and I'd just time 
to hand the Greaser a left hander behind the ear, 
before I went down on top of Whiskers, and the 
four of us rolled in a heap. I learned when I was 
a sailor how to argue. 

Then I struggled, dragging my pile of robbers 
off sideways, so that to keep me covered with the 
gun, poor Ginger showed his red head in the 
doorway. It was his life or mine, yet when the 
shot rang out from across the river, and I saw the 
lad come crashing to the ground, I felt sort of sick. 
Of course that shot slacked the grip of the three 
robbers, so I wrenched loose, struck hard, and 
jumped high, gaining the north wall of the cabin. 
When I turned round, our boys across the river 
were pouring hot lead after the robbers as they 
dived through the door of the shack. Ginger 
sprawled dead on the doorstep, and my gun six 
paces off lay in the dust. The robbers were dis- 
armed, and I was free. 

" Boys," I called out to them, " you done like 



THE UNTRUTHFUL PRISONER 149 

men. You put up a good t-ht, and it ain't no 
shame to surrender." 
Mr. Bull Brooke's voice answered. 
" Jesse, old friend I " 

I heard a crash inside, and guessed that Mr. 
Brooke had been discouraged. 

" Whiskers," I called, " don't make a mess of 
that cabin with Mr. Brooke." 
^^ "All right, young fellow," said Whiskers, 
we ve only put him back in the flour sack." 
He spoke quite cheerful. 
" Say, Whiskers," I called, " I want to save 
your lives, you and the Greaser. Come and throw 
up your hands before you're hurt," 

There was no answer. Rocky Mountain outlaws 
may be mean and bad, but they fight like Ameri- 
cans, and they know how to die. I'd only one way 
left to force their surrender, and save their lives, 
so I hustled brushwood, cordwood, coal oil from 
the shed, piled up the fuel, and got a sulphur 
match from the bunch in my hind pocket. 

" Boys," I called, " Old Brown sort of values 
this place. It's all the home he's got, and it ain't 
msured." 
No answer. 

The little flame lep' up, and caught the brush- 
wood, the crackling lifted to a roar, and the robbers 
must surely know that their time was come, for if 
they showed at the door they would be shot. I 
grabbed my gun from the ground, and ran to the 
doorway to stop our boys from firing. Then I 



,50 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

f. .. ■■-'■ ■■■ 

shouted above the noise of the flames, " Come out 

and throw up your hands ! " 

They came, poor fellows, and I made them 
prisoners, marching them down to the ferry. The 
Greaser had saved Brown's fiddle. 



CHAPTER X. 



BREAKING THE STATUTES. 



At Hundred Mile House the long table had been 
removed from the dining hall, the benches set back 
to the log walls, and at the head of the room an 
enormous Union Jack draped a very small portrait 
of Queen Victoria. Beneath was the Chair, in 
front of it a table set with writing materials and 
the Bible, while at one end the school ma'am looked 
very self-conscious as Clerk, in official black, with 
large red bows like signals of distress. 

On the right sat Iron Dale, Jesse, and myself, 
and all our posse, very ill at ease. On the left 
were two gaunt American stockmen, both wearing 
hats, while one had the star of an United States 
Marshal. Beside them sat the general public, 
consisting of Tearful George, two ranche hands, an 
Indian, and the Captain's bulldog. Wee James, 
the Captain's grandson, sat with the dog at first, 
but presently he interrupted the Court to say that 
he would like to sit on me. He sat with consider- 
able weight for so small a person. 

At Captain Taylor's entrance the constable 
ordered us all to stand. Every inch a naval officer, 
bluff, ruddy, cheery, choleric, frightfully impres- 
sive in a frock coat, he wore a Russian order slung 
isi 



ill 

II 



iSa JESSE OF CARIBOO 

by a ribbon at his throat, and a little row of 
miniature war medals, the ribbons, alas, too small 
to show me of which campaigns. At sight of the 
two strangers he mounted a single eyeglass, and 
stared with growing wrath until they removed their 
hats. Then, taking the Chair, he permitted us 
to be seated, and ordered his constable to " Bring 
the prisoners aft," 

Had our captives been washed and brushed, 
they might not have looked so wretched or so 
guilty. Old O'Flynn, described by Jesse as 
Whiskers, with his hiead in a blood-stained 
bandage, his right hand in a gory handkerchief, 
looked so ill that he was given a seat. The 
Mexican, whose beautiful leather dress, and soft 
dark eyes reminded me sharply of the Opera 
House, like a trapped wolf, seemed only thinking 
of escape to the nearest woods. Bull Durham's 
swaggering gallantry was marred by obvious 
traces of the flour sack wherein he had been 
immersed by his disgusted ;hief, and of the shower 
of rain which followed. 

" Prisoners," said the magistrate. 

At that moment the United States Marshal 
squirted tobacco juice, adroitly hitting a spittoon 
distant some fourteen feet. 

" Constable," said the magistrate austerely, 
" remove that person until he has washed his 
mouth." Every man present had been furtively 
chewing tobacco, but no one who knew Captain 
Taylor in his ofScia) mood would have presumed 
to spit. Every jaw became rigid, every eye looked 



BREAKING THE STATUTES 153 



reproachfully at the Marshal, who rose protesting 
in stately sentences that he represented the Majesty 
of the Amurrican People. 

" Take his majesty out," said the Captain with 
dreadful calmness, "and put him under the pump." 

The Representative of the Stock Associations 
rose to support his countryman. 

" Clap them in irons," said the Captain, " I'll 
have no spitting on my Quarter Deck." 

Jesse and Dale rose to assist the constable, and 
for some stirring moments we were threatened with 
international complications. Then in his quaint 
slow drawl my husband obtained leave to address 
the magistrate. " I got an Amurrican book right 
here," said he, "in my hind pocket. It's called 
Deportment for Gents. In real, high-toned society, 
this Honeypott claims that Amurrican gentlemen 
chews, but reserves the juice until they happens on 
8 yaller dawg. Then they assists that dawg with 
his complexion." 

The Marshal stooped to pet the Captain's bull- 
dog. " I'd help this yaller purp," said he with a 
grave smile, " if I'd thicker pants." 

The Captain chuckled, and the case went on, our 
visitors having 'allowed' " that they didn't propose 
to chew in a court of justice." 

" Prisoners," said our Justice of the Peace, 
laying his hand on the Bible. " This Book 
contains the only Law I know. I'm not here as 
Judge or lawyer, but as one of Her Majesty's 
officers trusted to do the sporting thing, and to 
deal fairly and squarely with three innocent men 



154 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

who have the misfortune to be charged with crime. 
You've only to prove to me that you're innocent, 
and I have power to let you go free. But I warn 
you to tell the truth." 

" Seems a square deal, Cap," said Whiskers. 

" It is a square deal. Now would you like to 
have some one of your countrymen as prisoners' 
friend?" 

Whiskers looked reproachfully at the United 
States Marshal who demanded his extradition, and 
the Representative of Stock Associations who 
offered fabulous rewards for his body 'dead or 
alive.* 

" Wall," he drawled, " not exactly." 

" You other prisoners. Do you accept this man 
as your spokesman? " 

" Si Seflor." 

" That's all right," said Bull. 

" Prisoner O'Flynn, you are charged with 
assaulting a woman, you others with aiding and 
abetting. Guilty or not guilty ? " 

" It's a fact," said Whiskers sadly, " and all 
three of us wishes to say, what's got to be said" — 
he drew himself up to his full height—" by 
gentlemen ! We tried to force a lady to give her 
husband away. She shamed us, and we honours 
Mrs. Smith for what she done. She told us to 
go to blazes. Yes Sirl We just owns up that 
we're guilty as Hell, as the best way of showing 
our respect." 

" Gentlemen," Captain Taylor spoke very 
gently. "I understand that you O'Flynn, received 



BREAKING THE STATUTES 155 



two wounds in punishment, and that two of your 
comrades were killed by the men who avenged this 
affront. Is that true? " 

" It's a fact." 

" The verdict of the Court is ' not guilty.' 

" But prisoner, your confession proves the right 
of the settlers to organise for defence of the settle- 
ment until the constable could be brought to their 
help. All you settlers who have taken part in the 
capture of these prisoners are engaged by the 
Province as Special Constables from the day you 
undertook service, until I give you your discharge. 
You will be paid on such a scale as I direct. 

" Rudolf Schweinfurth." 

The Marshal came forward and was sworn. 

" You are a United States Marshal ? " 

" Yes, Judge." 

" You submit proof? " 

The Marshal's credentials were read. 

" You claim these prisoners for Extradition ? " 

" Yes, Judge." 

" Sit down. Cyrus Y. Jones." The other 
stockman was sworn. " You are Representative 
of certain Stock Associations, and submit proof? 
Right. You claim certain cattle alleged to be 
stolen, and found in possession of the prisoners? 
Right. You submit photographs identifying 
certain of these cattle, and evidence of theft. And 
you offer twenty-five thousand dollars reward for 
recovery of the stock. Pay that money into Court 
and take my receipt. 

" Prisoners, you are charged in your own 



.if^^ 



i.'se 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



country with robbery-under-arms, and homicide in 
various degrees. Now I don't pretend to under- 
stand to what particular degree you may or may 
not have murdered people, but it seems to me that 
being killed even to a /ery slight extent must be 
damned inconvenient. I don't want to know 
whether you're guilty or not guilty, because it's 
no business of mine. I do know that this official 
who claims you represents the Republic. I have 
plenty of evidence that you were found in this 
country under suspicioifs circumstances, and that 
you proceeded to make yourselves a general 
nuisance. If I committed you for vagrancy or 
assault, it would delay you in a business which 
you must have deeply at heart. I know that if I 
were charged with a tenth part of these crimes I'd 
never sleep until I proved my innocence. Do you 
or do you not wish to prove your innocence? " 
The prisoners scratched their heads. 
" Marshal," said the magistrate. " I don't 
know what my powers are in this matter, but it's 
evident that the less red tape there is the sooner 
these men will get the justice they rightly demand. 
I don't want them. Give me a receipt and engage 
what men you need for escort duty. You, Mr. 
Representative, give me your receipt for the cattle. 
Now clear out, and get to the States before you're 
interfered with by any lop-eared offi-ials. Con- 
stable, hand over your prisoners. 

" Mr. Dale and Mr. Smith, will you trust me as 
magistrate to make a fair division of this reward ? 
All right. After Mr. Brown is compensated for 



BREAKING THE STATUTES 157 

the burning of his cabin, one quarter goes to Dale, 
one quarter to Smith, and the other half to be 
equally divided among you. Is that fair? All 
right. Let's get the table in, and dinner served. 
I'm famished." 

So the Court rose, and the dear old Captain, 
having, I believe, broken every statute in British 
Columbian jurisprudence, asked all hands and the 
prisoners to dinner. " Of course," he said after- 
wards to Jesse, " I ought to have committed you 
and Dale to trial for homicide, fined you all round 
for using guns without a license, turned the lawyers 
loose on a fat extradition case, and impounded the 
cattle to eat my grass at government expense. As 
it is I'll be hanged, drawn, and quartered by the 
politicians, damned by the Press, and gaoled for 
thrashing editors. And I missed all the fun." 

After dinner the crowd broke up into little 
groups. In one corner the American officials were 
bargaining with Mr. Dale for his Skyline men to 
ride with the prisoners, and the cattle. By the 
door stood Mr. Brooke, explaining something at 
great length to our bored constable. At the head 
of the long table Captain Taylor was telling me 
how difficult it was to find a suitable nursery 
governess for Wee James. At the foot of the table 
I saw the Mexican whispering to his unfortunate 
chief— plans for escape, no doubt. Then Jesse 
joined them, with a present of pipes, matches, and 
tobacco to ease their journey. 

" Mr. Smith," said poor old O'Flynn, " this 



158 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



yere Sebastian Diaz has been with me these twelve 
year. He's only a greaser " 

" Medio Sangre, Seflor 1 " said the half breed 
proudly. 

" But he's got the heart of a white man. He's 
like a son lo me." 

"I'm proud," said Jesse, " to make your 
acquaintance, both of you. You are men all right" 

" We fought the rich men what had wronged us, 
them and their breed. We put up a good fight. 
Yes, Sir I And we wouldn't have missed a mile 
of that twelve years' trail. It wasn't owr way to 
insult women, Mr. Smith." 

" You had to git that information somehow," 
said Jesse, " and Mrs. Smith forgives you." 

The old man bowed his head. 

"Muchos gracias, Caballero 1" said the Mexican. 

" That's off our minds, Mr. Smith." 

" Mostly known as Jesse," said my husband. 

" Jesse. We bin consulting, and we agree 
you're the only mar. here we'd care to ask favours of." 

" I'm your friend all right." 

" Jesse, if we don't escape, we due to pass in 
our chips." 

" I'm not going to help you escape." 

" Wall, you haven't helped our escape to any 
great extent, so far as I know." 

Jesse chuckled. 

" But I'm asking you to look after my wife and 
my son." 

" I'll do that." 

" You'll save the boy from his father's trade? " 



BREAKING THE STATUTES 159 



" I reckon." 
" Put her thar." 
And they shook hands. 
Them horses we was riding," said the outlaw, 



is for 



my ( 



" That's all right." 

"And one thing more. This yere Brooke ain't 
white." 

" You don't say t " 

The outlaw grinned. " You sized him up all 
right. He joined us out of a wild west show last 
fall. He's never done nothin' to earn hanging or 
gaol, being too incompetent. But he's States 
evidence enough to hang us twenty times over. 
He'll get off. 

" Moreover, Jesse, take a dying man's word. 
That Brooke has an eye on your good lady. He's 
your enemy from times far back at Abilene. He'll 
live to do you dirt. Thar, I sort of hates to talk 
so of one of my partners, and I won't say no more. 

" Say, my hands being hurt, will you just reach 
into my off hind pocket? That's right. There's 
a gold watch. Take it, my time's up. Give that 
to your lady from us as a sort of keepsake. Good- 
bye, partner." 

" Goodbye, friend." 

"Adios," said the Mexican. " Vaya usted con 
Dios! " And the English of that is, " May you 
ride with God I " 

From the other end of the room Captain Taylor 
and I were watching that little scene. Without 
hearing a word we could understand so well. 



ifo JESSE OF CARIBOO 

" Young woman," said the Captain, " when I wa» 
a younger fool than I am now, I was naval attach^ 
at St. Petersburg. I'd seen how the Russian Bear 
behaved at Sevastopol and I liked to watch bow he 
behaved in the Winter Palace. One day a Cossack 
officer and his son came to make an appeal. Mrs. 
General had been a puss and bolted with one of 
the court officials, so her husband and son wanted 
leave to go after the man with their guns. They 
were so miserable that they sat at a table and took 
no notice of anybody or anything. After they'd 
been sitting a long time, a man came and laid down 
a case of duelling pistols on the table beside them. 
I couldn't hear what he said, but he sat down with 
them. Presently I saw him shake hands with the 
General. 

" Now your husband put something on the table, 
and sat down with those wretched prisoners, and 
presently shook hands with one of them. 

" Your husband and that Russian chap did the 
very same things in the very same way. Yes, 
you've married a gentleman by mistake." 

I was puzzled. " Who was the Russian? " I 
asked. 

" Oh, didn't I tell you ? He was the Emperor." 

After a minute, while I watched my royal man, 
the Captain laid his hand on mine. " Don't let 
these loafers see you crying," he whispered. 

" I'm not crying." I looked round to prove that 
I was not crying, and as I did so, my glance fell 
upon the old man's miniature medals. One of 
them was the Victoria Cross. 



CHAPTER XI. 



THE MINX. 

I. 

Both Jesse and I have a habit of committing our 
thoughto to paper and not to speech. Things 
written can be destroyed, whereas things said stay 
terribly alive. I think if other husbands and wives 
I know of wrote more and talked less, thei.- homes 
would not feel so dreadful, so full of horrible 
Shadows. There are houses where I feel ill as 
soon as I cross the doorstep, because the very air 
of the rooms is foul with the spite, the nagging, 
the strife of bitter souls. As to the houses where 
horrors have taken place, despair, madness, 
murder, suicide, these are always haunted, and 
sensitive people are terrified by ghosts. 

My pen has rambled. I sat down to write a 
thing which must not be said. 

Jesse is cruel to young O'Flynn. Perhaps he is 
justly, rightly cruel, in gibing at this young 
cowboy, taunting him until the lad is on the very 
edge of murder. " Got to be done," says Jesse, 
"I promised his father that I'd break the colt 
until he's fed up with robbers. So just you watch 
me lift the dust from his hide, and don't you git 
gesticulating on my trail with your fool sympa- 
* 161 



I! ' I 



i6a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

thies." Billy does not suspect that the tormentor 
loves his victim. . 

My heart aches with his humiliation. His 
mother is my cook, not a princess as the boy's pride 
would have her. His father was one of the most 
dangerous leaders of the Rocky Mountain Outlaws, 
so there the lad saw glory, and I don't blame him. 
But all the glamour was stripped away when Jesse 
tricked O'Flynn and his gang into surrender, 
handed them over to justice, and showed poor 
Billy his sordid heroes for what they really were. 
His father has been h«knged. 

Remember that this ranche, ablaze with romance 
for me, is squalid everyday routine for Billy, whose 
dreams are beyond the skyline. He imagines 
railways as we imagine dragons, and the Blooms- 
bury boarding-house from which my sister wrote 
on her return from India is, from his point of view, 
a place in the Arabian Nights. I read to him 
Taddy's letter, about the new boarder from Selan- 
gor, who is down with fever, the German waiter 
caught reading Colonel Boyce's manuscript on 
protective colour for howitzers, the tweeny's sailor 
father drowned at sea, and the excitement in that 
humdrum house when Lady Blacktail called. 
" Wish I'd had a shot," said Billy wistfully, his 
mind on the blacktail, our local kind of deer. 
Perhaps he saw forest behind the boarding-house. 
" In the Old Country," said he, " do the does 
call? Only the buck calls here. Your folks is 
easy excited anyways." 
" Lady Blacktail," said I, " is a woman." 



THE MINX 



163 



% 



" What was she shouting about 7 " 

" She just called — came to take tea, you know." 

" Got no job of work ? " 

" Oh, but her husband, Sir Tom, was a very 
rich man. He left her millions." 

" Mother's first husband," said Billy, his mind 
running on widows, "had lots of wealth. He kep' 
a seegar stand down town near the Battery, and had 
a brass band when they buried him. Mother came 
out West." 

That night the lad had come from Hundred Mile 
House, with Jesse's pack train bearing a load of 
stores. There was a dress length, music for my 
dear dumpy piano, spiced rolls of bacon, much 
needed flour and groceries, and an orange kerchief 
for Billy. From his saddle wallets he produced 
my crumpled letters and the weekly paper, a 
Vancouver rag. Therein Jesse labours among 
tangles of provincial politics, I gloat over the 
cooking recipes of America's nice cuisine, and 
spare maybe just a sigh over the London letter. 
Billy's portion consists of blood-curdling disasters 
and crimes, and the widow waits ravenous for her 
kindling, bed stuflSng, wall paper, and new pads 
for her wooden leg. At ten cents that paper is a 
bargain. 

She hovered presiding while her boy had supper, 
I checked siores against an untruthful invoice, .ind 
Jesse prepared to read : " Bribed with a Bridge I 
Who stole the Bonds," etc. Dear Jesse takes his 
riding seriously. His mind must be prepared 
with a pipe. His stately spectacles are cleaned on 



164 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



his neck cloth, and so mounted that he can see to 
read over the edges. Next he crawls under the 
stove to find the boot-jack, and pull off his long 
boots. After that he fills the lamp, lights that 
and a cigar of fearful pungency, and settles his 
great limbs in the chair of state. When all was 
arranged that night, he looked up from his paper. 
"Say," he drawled, "Billy. When you nde 
away and turn Robber, what's the matter with 
politics? You see if you was Sir Billy O'Flynn, 
and a Right Honourable Premier, you could steal 
enough to buy spurs as big as cartwheels. You're 
fiercer than our Member already with that new 
cow-scaring scarf, so all you'd need is a machine 
gun slung on your belt, a man killer like my mare 
Jones, and vou'll be the Tiger of the Forest. You 
git yo' mother's cat to learn you how to yowl." 

As though out of the air a large rough pine cone 
fell into Billy's plate. Mick yelled with fright, 
the widow, ghastly white, stared at the open 
window, Billy, after one flurried worried glance 
in that direction, pretended to cut up the cone with 
knife and fork as though it were quite the usual 
thing for supper. "What's up?" asked Jesse, 
then catching the frightened dog. " What's the 
trouble, Mick? " 

Set in the square of the window, 'dim against the 
stars, I thought I saw an elfish laughing face. 
Who could it be? No young unmarried women 
live within ninety miles; no beauty such as this 
among our homely settlers. 

" Oh nothing," said Billy, as he furtively 



THE MINX 



165 



dropped the pine cone into the breast of his shirt. 
" This bacon's powerful salt. Needs to be par- 
boiled, Mother." 



II. 



After 



breakfast when Jesse had gone to work, 
the widow came to me in deep distress, leaning 
against the doorpost, twisting up her apron with 
tremulous fingers, her eyes dark with dread. When 
I led her to a seat, perhaps she felt ray sympathy, 
for a flood of tears broke loose, and wild Irish 
mixed with her sobs. The Lcfrechaun possessed 
her bhoy avick, night riders haunted him, divils 
was in him acushla, and the child was fey. His 
step-uncle went fey to his end in the dreadful 
quicksands, her brother-in-law went mad in the 
black Indian hills, running on the spears of the 
haythen, rest his sowl, and now Billy I He was 
gone this hour. Fiercely she ordered me out to 
search, for she would take the southern pasture, so 
surely I would find him in the pines. She feared 
that place ; muttered of fires lit by no mortal hands. 
She spoke of wandering lights ; the cat had bristled, 
sparks flying from his coat because of elfin voices, 
and Mick had howled all night down at the Apex. 
Yestreen a falling star had warned her that she 
was to lose her bhoy, and had I not seen that face 
in the windy last night ? 

Soothing the poor .hing as best I could, I under- 
took the search, glad of an excuse to get away 
outdoors. 
I think the ponies had taken leave of their 



i66 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

senses, for instead of grazing along the sunlit 
bench, they romped in the dim green glades of the 
bull pine, playing at tag perhaps, or hide ana 
seek. Panting, and wild-eyed, they pulled up to 
watch me pass^ then snorted at me and raced away 
thundering over the turf. Presently I came upon 
Billy perched on a root overhanging the depths ot 
the canyon, and I surprised him in a fit of laughter, 
pelting volleys of cones into the swaying branches 
overhead. Someone up there among the coral red 
boughs gave a gay chuckle, as one of the missiles 
fell back on Billy's skull, but that stopped with a 
gasp, followed by frozen silence, as I came in 
sight. A flight of humming birds came whirring 
straight at me, as though they were thrown in my 
face, and when I looked to the boy for explanation, 
it was to find him dour as usual, engrossed with a 
ridiculous book of Jesse's, a thing called " Deport- 
ment for Gents." 

" Billy," I shouted, " come in oft that root 
before you fall I " 

He obeyed, with sulky patience at my whims. 

"Are you bewitched? " I asked crossly. " You 
ought to be at work." 

His curly red-gold hair, his skin with the dusky 
bloom of a ripe peach, his eyes like flashing 
sapphire, his voice all sweet deep resonance, his 
poise of easy power and lithe grace— upon my 
word, am I falling in love with a ranche hand I 

"Bewitched?" he asked in wonder, "Why, 
what's that? " 



THE MINX 



167 



you 



" Who on earth were you pelting in those 
empty branches?" 

He lied with frank joy, " Squir'ls I " 

" Billy, I saw that minx at the window, and 
again in that tree, you young rogue, before she 
disappeared into thin sunlight. Oh, share up, 
Billy I I've been young too, and I've so longed 
to meet a real " 

"A real what?" He grinned. "Do 
believe in them? " 

" Of course I do." 

" You ain't joshing me? " 

" I envy you." 

He looked into the air, his lips moving as though 
he consulted on the point of my worthiness. Then 
pur^ng his lips in refusal, he shook his sunny 
head. After all I was only a mortal. 

" I sang to you, Billy." 

" That's so. It was then she first came — down 
the music." 

I stared at him, wonderstruck. 

" She came to you, down the music I " 

How blind I must have been. This cowboy of 
the far wilderness, clean as the forest, primitive as 
the river, rough as the great cliffs, must live in a 
spiritual air where I, a world-worn creature, could 
not breathe. 

I pleaded, " Is she in love with you? " 

" I dunno," he smiled at the remembrance. 
" She just came, and she surely plagues me." 

" Yes, in love." 

" That's all you know. She only wants her fun. 



i ! 



I: 



i68 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

Mother liutta't look, Je8«'« Wind m an owl, but 
you sing fine, and »he likes music. I'm to come 
with her, to get away from Jesse. She hates him 
too : we're going anyway." 

"Where?" 

" Just over the cliff." 

I glanced at the depths, and shuddered. 

" To get away," he said, " that's pood enough 
for me." 

" That's death," I whispered. 

" So I says, but she just pokes fun, and I'm sure 
ignorant." 

" Why read that silly etiquette? " 

" It's the first part about bein' married. We're 
engaged," he added proudly, " but shucks I That 
writing person he don't know nothin'. Pshaw— 
the lil' impudent cuss I Seel " he pointed right 
behind me, and when I looked there was Jesse, his 
eyes glued to my tracks, solemnly trailing me. 
His dog, I believe, had bolted. 

Don't think me crazy, but there was something 
walked in Jesse's company, a laughing witch at 
his elbow, a ridiculous mimic of his every move- 
ment A pang of actual jealousy shot through me. 

" Jesse I " I called, " how dare you flirt with 
that minx? " 

" What mink," he answered crossly. " I ain't 
seen no mink." 

I saw a tree trunk through her misty skirt, the 
rogue's face giggled even while it changed into 
a blue smoke puff from my dear man's pipe. She 
vanished 1 



THE MINX 



169 



" Say, Billy," said Jesse, coming to us, and I 
noticed how the boy shrank at the sound of his 
voice, " what you bin doing to them ponies? 
They're acting 'sif they'd all gone crazy this 
morn." 

" Your ponies," quoth Billy, spitefully, " ain't 
no good nohow." 

"Jesae," I gasped, "you saw nothing, nobody?" 

" Who should there be? " he asked. " Say, 
youngster, when you sawed off that table leg to 
make your mother's limb, what did you do with 
the castor? " 

III. 

That night Mrs. O'FIynn awakened me, so I 
dressed and followed her into the lean-to kitchen. 
It was three o'clock, and I found that graceless 
Billy had been missing since half-past ten. For 
anybody who feared the fairies, his conduct was 
something more than disconcerting, so once more 
I agreed to search the northern woods while the 
distressed mother went southwards across the 
pasture. 

With a shawl about her, and a howly candle to 
kape off avil spirits, she went shivering, but still 
valiant into the night. I kissed Jesse, who was 
fast asleep, and taking his bludgeon to protect me 
from goodness knows what, set out to search the 
aisles of my cathedral grove. 

r»illy had lighted a fire, which shone on coral 
branches, lit rugged columns, and cast its warm 
glow into the cool green moonlight under cloudy 
foliage. 



m 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



I never quite know vhat my dear trees mean. 
Of course they might just have been warming lean 
branches at Billy'a fire, indeed the outer trees 
seemed to crowd in jealous boughs for a share of 
that red warmth. And yet you kraw, the yellow 
pine is rather self-centred, and quitt non-committal, 
tends no garden for instance abou> ' '« roots, and 
merely tolerates the squirrels. Hj r'^es but little 
notice of anybody, and never like the sinister black 
pine, peers at folk in the dusk, trying to frighten 
them. Well, by the time I had crept round at the 
canyun edge to the foot of the Father pine, I had 
no faith left in any domestic sentiment or warming 
of hands. Awful was the silence in the aisles, the 
moonlit windows of the grove glowed with so chill 
a beauty that the very angels might have been 
peeping in, and while incense, and the savour of 
the smoke clouded my brain, the Are seemed like 
that upon some altar, sacrificial, where the very 
flames lifted their hands in prayer. The great river 
like an organ crooned " Lift up your hearts I " 
Yes, it was service time, and serene as some young 
priest, the cowboy lover kept vigil on his knees. 

Something astir beyond the fire discovered to me 
a congregation of ponies, waiting, expectant. 
Then on still wings, an owl, curiously intrusive, 
stole from behind the darkness, and with sharp 
fright of wings bustled away again. I had a sense 
of delay, of something yet expected, until at last, 
out of the quivering air above the flames, as though 
she were entering church, came the reluctant Spirit, 
and knelt down reverently at her lover's side. It 



THE MINX 171 

was when he clasped her transparent hand, that I 
saw how Jesse's big Bible lay open at his knees, 
open at the beginning, at the Book of Common 
Prayer. 

" The light's dam bad," he muttered, " but it's 
got to do." So he bent low to read the flame-lit 
text. " With this ring I thee wed, with all my 
worldly goods I thee endow— which I ain't got 
much, but you bein' only a spirit, -on't need my 

saddle. In the name of the what s the matter ?" 

Perhaps the spirit feared the Holy Names, or 
was tired of being so good, for suddenly her hands 
clasped over the lad's eyes, blinding him, while she 
pulled him backwards until with an oath he cap- 
sized. Swooping down on him with a hug and a 
great kiss, she crooned some quaint endearment, 
then, surting to her feet rejoicing, triumphant, the 
glorious creature stood in the very midst of the 
fire, her robes like shimmering flame borne up on 
waves of heat. At that he scrambled up from the 
ground, yelling his fright lest she burn, while the 
spirit, delighted with her trickery, danced in the 
smoke wreaths, making faces at him just like some 
naughty child. 

With a scattering of coals, he tried to throw his 
arms about her, but clasped red flames. His hair 
caught fire, and even while tortured, he put it out 
wuh his hands, a spreading ring of sparks upon 
his breast showed me his shirt was burning. I 
believe I screamed. 

Yet presently when I came to myself, sheer 
terror for Billy's fate compelled me lo look again. 



! I 



17* 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



He stood beating the sparks from his clothes, and 
all at>out him red embers from the scattered fire 
were greying down to black. As yet be did not 
see the ray of moonlight which, close beside me, 
was subtly emergent into a creature of silver green 
and cold blue shadow. The spirit must have 
sighed, for as though he had been roused by a call, 
he turned bewildered. Alluring arms reached out, 
a sweet penitent face pleaded forgiveness, and then 
ever so humbly the Spirit knelt as though implor- 
ing pardon. 

He stood irresolute, still half resentful. " If it 
weren't for getting even with Jesse," he said aloud, 
" I'd have no more truck with you." 

Her bead was bowed, she seemed to quiver with 
grief — yes, with one impish eye cocked up at me 
as though to say, " Now isn't that convincing? " 

Then only the lad knew that he was fooled. He 
stood sane, released from her glamour, silent, in 
a white rage, then rushed at this evil Spirit 
intending murder. 

The minx seeming in dreadful fright, rose 
hurriedly, pretending to run away, yet halted to 
lure him on, raced to the edge of the chasm, out 
on the level of the rimrock into moonlit space, then 
made believe to trip as though caught by invisible 
roots, stumbling that he might come with confi- 
dence. And he saw the spirit only nut the ground, 
not the abyss; he was rushing past me blind to his 
deadly peril . 

I had Jesse's bludgeon, swung for a blow at the 
minx, ready. I struck with my full strength at 



THE MINX 



>73 



Billy and felled him. He lay so near the edge 
that one arm hung over, and his senseless body 
slid forward, slipping down into the canyon, until 
I grabbed his foot. 
The minx had vanished. 






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CHAPTER XII. 

EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES. 

I. 

I WONDER how many persons live in Jesse's body? 
On the surface he is the rugged whimsical stock- 
man, lazy, with such powers in reserve as would 
equip a first class volcano. Sing to him and 
another Jesse emerges, an inarticulate poet, a 
craftless artist, an illiterate writer, passionate lover 
of all things beautiful in Art and Nature. And 
beneath all that is Jesse of the Sabbath, in bleak 
riehteousness and harsh respectability, scion of 
many Smiths, the God-fearing head of his house, 
who reads and expounds the Scriptures on Sunday 
evenings to sullen Billy, the morose widow, and 
my unworthy self. Hear him expound in the 
vindictive mood: — . u u 

" When I survey the pasture in these here back 
blocks of Genesis, I know we got to make allow- 
ances. These patriarchs is only sheep men any- 
how, and sheep herders is trash. They're not what 
we call white men, but Jews, which is a species of 
Dago. When they get Religion they're a sort 
Mormons, a low-lived breed, yet useful for throwing 
population quick into a lonesome country where 
they don't seem popular. . 

" Now here's Laban. He hasn't got Religion, 

m 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES 175 

but keeps a trunk full of no-account gods, believed 
in by ignorant persons. Instead of attending to 
business, he trusts h'is foreman Jacob, so it serves 
him right if he's robbed. Yet the Lord ain't down 
on him quite so much as you'd think, for he's 
allowed to graze Government land, with no taxes, 
mortgage, or railroads to rob the meat off his 
bones. Maybe the Lord's sort of sorry for the 
poor sheep-herding Dago without no horses— the 
same being good for men's morals, though Jones 
did kick me out of the stable this very morning. 
Moreover, Laban lives in a scope of country where 
men is surely scarce, or he'd never give more'n one 
of his daughters to such a swine as Jacob. Laban 
tries to be white, so he'd get my vote at elections. 

" You'd think that if the Lord could stand Jacob 
he must be plumb full of mercy — so there's hope 
for skunks. He's got so many millions of 
thoroughbred stud Angels that even the best of 
men is low grade stock to Him. And regarding 
us mavericks. He has an eye on them as takes 
kindly to their feed. Yes, He claps His brand on 
them as know their work. 

" So He sees Jacob is a sure glutton, and more, 
« great stockman, producing an improved strain of 
ringstraked goats and sheep. And Jacob does his 
duty to his country, begetting twelve sons— mean 
as snakes, but still the best he can raise. Yes, 
there's excuses for Jacob, and lynching ain't yet 
invented. 

" Jacob throws dirt in ofd man Laban 's face, 
then skins out for his own Reservation. On this 



176 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

trail he's got to cross Esau's ranche--the first man 
he ever swindled. Just you watch him, abject as 
a yaller dawg, squirming and writhing and crawl- 
ing to meet the only gentleman in that country. 
You or me, Billy, would have kicked Jacob good 
and plenty, but we're only scrub cowboys, and 
that's whar the Bible instructs. ^ 

" The mean trash agrees to keep off Laban s 
grass ; he puts up bribes to Esau ; he plays his skin 
game on the folks at Succoth, which I cayn't explain 
because there's ladies present, and the only comfort 
is that the angel of the Lord has sized him up, 
being due to twist his tail in next Sunday's chapter. 
Now let us get through praying, quick as the Lord 
will let us, because them calves ain't had their 
buttermilk." 

When we knelt, the widow still sat rigid, and 
with her wooden leg scratched out upon the oilcloth 
vague outlines of a gallows. Afterwards she 
explained. " Yer husband, Mrs. Smith, bad cess 
to him, is mighty proud av his spectacles, phwat he 
can't see through and all, and showing off his 
learning and pride av a Sunday." 
"But why draw gallows on the floor? " 
"And why for should I not draw gallows on the 
flure, sedng he'll never drown? It's hung he'll 
be for a opprissing the fatherless and the widow, 
and burn he will afther for a Phrotestant. Yis," 
she flashed round on her son, " feed buttermilk to 
thim calves, and hould up yer head allanah, cause 
you inherit Glory while he's frying I " 
Away from the widow's hate and her son's fear. 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES .77 

fS Ik h?m - *?'r^'' '=""»*'*' ^'^h deadly 
pSns anT^h "'P*""' '"^'*=''- ^' soothes his 
h,T»i? ' T r ''* P*""'*' scent makes him eentle 

to stToke" I r^T- ^""'y •"«^' -*• hardlf ire 
devil smile »nT„„ .1 f """^''^ '*°"'<' "^ke a 

" Srf "'"*■' '°* '^'^'^'^y '^-''s into the Church 
Light from austere saints mellows dusty gE 

Ind^his h,''^"^' '" '"^ '''"'y heavens'^ ^ 
Yet ii manf'^r''"""' "'^''^ * '^harnel hell. 
Yet in man s .ikeness God makes Pain divine 

": LiSf ' '"'"' ''-'^ "pwarr:;ds 

S^thei'"^ '""'°P' '""*='''''^'' 'Choristers 

ReSveX^hrr °' ^'*^' ^"^«" «='°"^ 

P^^ Hf .°'y Sacramental Light 

F^om God's high priest, the minLring Sun I •• 

-ncou^gl.^"" "'"*'" '"'^'^ J*'-^. -» the 

we 'iSdt .^'" '"°" '•'^^ '^'^ "-^'y « year since 

youl:kTdSS:'„?"?^°"'-'^^- ^o 



m 



„8 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

I sat down on the root of the little govern^ 
tree, the humblest in the grove. _ In the d 
dear, who was the son of Jesse? 

^Sr^'ouleme't; dear: -for I have provided 

" ^f S^tyTr'oJs the thundrous misty 
depths'^Se cannon, and ^^^^ ^^^^^1^^^!"^ 

'"^^l^^l-vrgotlcT; confessio^o. make. 
When you settled Mr. Trevor's estate-— 
.'His states was debts, and we paid 'em. There 

""^Z^^ Jhe'Si You were hard driven to 
meet the interest on y°"' «°J8^«'-;.^, ^ aear title 

t-;i:^.«:e";u4"soT:?ryr:hem^r 

"^J"you Ted'st thousand dollars, at g«^ness 
know^X ^dl. I let you still imagine that you 

""'m got plenty wealth, Kate, wealth enough 

'""/"JaSd yo^. Jesse, just you, I wanted poverty 

buy I°horoughbred stallion, to stock the place. 
•' That's so." 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES 179 

" Jesse, under my dear father's will I have seven 
thousand five hundred dollars a ve- " 

"A what I " ' 

•' I'm a rich woman, dear. I been saving 
my income, and there's ten thousand dollars for 
you at the bank." 

nmLH^^''!^'''"?"'^ '''^''"^' ^^'^^ he receipted 
promptly with a kiss. He is so rough too. 

pIrA *** **'f^"'««<' improvements. A bunch of 
tas Oregon horses, three cowboys to handle our 
stock, a man to run the Skyline contract, an 
irrigated cornfield, and winter feed, two Chinese 
servante, so many • must haves ' that we waxed 
qu te despondent over ways and means. Jesse 

murh n° yf"f "^^^ °n business, and thus after 
much preamble I came at last to the point. 
Take Billy with you." 
"Bui if I go he's got to look after the ranche." 
Men are so stupid. When I sing to my dear 

some distant chorus; yet at the sight of Tesse 

could I tell such a man of Billy's peril from a 

no '^"7 "^''' '^'"' ^'""'^ u^Lder^tands Tnd 
no sacrifice is too great for a mother. 

hin, o ^"^^ ** ^'"y-" I said, " you pray at 

aln^ruffS^ V" ''l''^ ^^-- «" 
and thS^^Tr,- Jet.'^"'^^ '"''' '"^ °"' 

a4S=£ii^r--^,;PPe..gto 
Why Billy daresn't say good-morning to my 



'1^^ 



m 



I Ml > 



,8„ JESSE OF CARPOO 

of liniment until he supples, yes. and works. 

Dreams earn no grub." 
" Take him away, Jesse dear. ,^ 

" He bin making love to you, Kate < 
My heart stood still, and to my )«'l°"2kW bv 

silSe means consent. Two Ja« --^^f.^'Jy ''I; 

,ith a business •»-""«'• .'^X^^, ^^'Sn the 

appointment w.th some ^^'^ ^;^^fli„gi„g a^ay 

J^^Sedaboutthe^c^^^^^^^^^^ 

the first time in his lite «««' "^"- . ^ ^p 

go hungry. ^^ 

Last night Jesse came home from Vancouver, 
andl bSg Sunday evening, he read and ex- 

\La the Scriptures to the amazement of the 
C ntw -ch?hands. The Chinamen, being 

'^f.'SUn7vSe i^he ways of high sc^iety I 
ain't free to comment on Mrs. Potiphar, who kep 
Steward instead of doing her job as housekeeper, 



!i) 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES i8i 



or on this General Sir Something Potiphar, 
C.O.D., C.P.R., H.B.C., P.D.Q., commanding 
the Haw-Haw Guards, who seeins to neglect his 
missus. As a plain stockman I pursues after 
Joseph." 

By this time three godless cowpunchers, crimson 
with suppressed emotions, were digging each other 
fiercely in the ribs. 

" This here Joseph is a sheep herding swine 
from the Desert, smooth because he's been brung 
up among range animals, but mean because he's 
raised for a pet by Jacob, the champion stinker of 
the Wild West." 

At that Pete exploded, and had to retire in 
convulsions, while the other two infants reproached 
him for interruption. 

" Smooth and mean is Joseph, a cream laid 
young person like Pete, who's going to have black 
draught to heal his cough before morning. Joseph 
is all deportment and sad eyes, with a crossed-in- 
love droop. His brothers is mean so far as they 
knows how without reading newspapers, but even 
they can't stand Joseph. General and Mrs. Poti- 
phar don't seem to like his perfume. When he's 
in gaol he's steward, so that the other prisoners 
has dreams of grub, but nary a meal till he goes. 

" I dunno, but if I was a self-made man, I'd 
hate to have my autobiography wrote by my poor 
relations, or the backers I'd cheated and left on 
my trail to Fifth Avenue. Them brethren, the 
Potiphar outfit, and the gaol birds, is plumb full 
of grief that they ever seen this Joseph, and you'll 



H 



i 



i8a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

notice that when he dies, the Egyptians don't 
subscribe for a monument. He's a city man, a 
financier, and the Lord is with him, watching his 
natural history, this being the first warning of the 
plagues of Egypt. 

" Thar's only one man as can afford to know 
the Honourable Joseph. Pharaoh has an axe, so 
any gent caught with more'n four aces, is apt to 
fade away out of Egypt. Yes, he can afford to 
know Joseph, and they're birds of a feather all 
right. 

" Now horses is so scarce that up to now there 
ain't one in the Bible, until Pharaoh loans Joseph 
his second best chariot, and gives him a sure fine 
sleigh robe to go buggy riding. 

"And Jews is scarce. This Pharaoh is the first 
king to get a Jew financier to do his graft. 

" It ain't the king who pays for that corner in 
wheat, and you can bet your socks it's not Joseph. 
It's the bleeding, sweating, hungry Egyptians who 
pays the Wheat Trust which makes Pharaoh and 
Joseph multi-millionaires. So there on the high 
lonesome is the Jew and His Majesty, with no club 
of millionaires to tell them they done right, and 
nobody in all Egypt left to swindle. 

" Old Pharaoh's in a museum now, Joseph is 
located at Chicago, Egypt is sand-rock desert ; but 
God's in His Heaven, and judging by the way us 
human beings behave, them golden pavements 
ain't got crowded yet. 

" Oh Lord, Thou knowest that we who ride 
herd in Thy pastures, haven't got much to be 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES i8,^ 

selfish about on Earth. We cayn i ;iake dollars 
out of Thy golden sunshine, or cur.-iicy bills out 
of Thy silver streams, but all the same, deliver us 
from selfishness, and lead us not into the tempta- 
tions of a large account at the bank, 'cause we're 
only kids when we gets down to civilization, and 
all our ways is muddy so soon as we quit Thy 
grass." 

The cowboys slipped away, no longer hilarious, 
perhaps even a little awed, for Jesse's qtaint 
observances are spray from a sea, sparkling on the 
surface, but in its depths profound. And we two 
women waited, the widow longing for news about 
her son, while I was concerned for my man. 
Hard, bitter, sinister the sermon, humble and 
reverent the appeal for help, and now when the 
men had left us, Jesse remained in prayer. Almost 
with tears he pleaded for widows and fatherless 
children, until my servant's austere face became 
quite gentle, and she was able to hobble off to her 
bed feeling that all was well. 

The night being cold, Jesse had his cigar beside 
the stove, while I sat on the lov.' stool so that the 
fumes might rise above my unworthy head. 

" The widow believes," I said, "that he/ boy 
will get rich in the city." 

" I got Billy a job." 

Jesse's face looked very grave. 

"At a grocery," he added. 

I sighed for the romantic lad, condemned to an 
apron behind the counter. 

"And the young hawk flew off." 



1*4 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" I'm glad I •• 

" Ye see it's this way, Kate. He's shying heaps 
at Ashcroft, the first town he ever seen, where 
there's a bit of side-wallc, electric lights, and 
waitresses. I had to kiss the fluffy one to show 
him they don't bite. 

"Then thar's the railroad. By that time he's 
getting worldly, all ' you-can't-fool-me,' and ' not- 
half-so-slick-as-our-ranche ' until we comes to his 
first tunnel, and he jumps right out of his skin. 
After that he wants everybody to know he's a 
cowboy wild and lone, despising the tenderfoot 
passengeis right through the two hundred and 
fifty miles to Vancouver. At the depAt he points 
one ear at the liners in port, and the other ear at 
them sky-scraping six-story business blocks up 
street. He feels he'd ought to play wolf, shoot up 
saloons, and paint the town, but he's getting scary 
as cats because there's too many people all at 
once. He loses count, thinks there's three horns 
goes to one steer, and wants to hold my hand. 
That's when an engine snorts in his ear; a street 
car comes at him ears back, teeth bare, and tail 
a-waving ; and a lady axes him what time the twelve 
o'clock train leaves. Then he hears a band play, 
and it's too much — he just stam])edes for the woods. 
When I rounds him up next afternoon, he's just 
ate a candy store, he's gorged to the eyes, and 
trying to make room for ice cream. The next two 
days Billy's close-herded, and fed high to give 
his mind a rest. He seen the Sea, pawed the wet 
of it, snuffed the big smell — ^yes, and the boy near 



EXPOUNDING THE SCRIPTURES i8s 

trying. Town men who can't smell, or see, or 
hear, or feel with their hands, would have some 
trouble understanding what the Sea means to a 
sort of child like that. 

He's willing to start work as a millionaire, but 
don't feel no holy vocation for groceries. So in 
the end he runs away, out of that frying pan into 
the— wall, the rest ain't clearly known, although 
the police has a clue. It seems my wolf cub leads 
some innocent yearling astray down by the 
harbour, said victim being the crimp from a sailors' 
boarding house. To prove he's fierce, Billy has a 
skinful of mixed drinks, and this stranger i tind 
enough to take him to see a beautiful E .,jlish 
barque which is turning loose for Cape Horn. 
Seems the ship takes a notion to Billy, and the 
Captain politely axes him to work. He's been 
Shanghaied." 

" This will kill his mother." 

" Not if she thinks her son's another Toseoh 
getting rich." 

" Oh, it's too awful 1 " 

" Wall, maybe I'm a fool, Kate, but seems to 
me that this young person had to be weaned from 
running after a woman, before he'd any chance to 
be a man." 



n 



i 



CHAPTER XIII. 






NATIVITY. 

Jesse allowed that the upper forest does look ' sort 
of wolfy.' He would post relays of ponies along 
the outward trail, so that he and McGee could ride 
the eighty miles back in a single march. If the 
Doctor survived that, he would be here in forty- 
eight hours, perhaps in time. 

I made Jesse take his revolver, yes, loaded it 
myself, and he promised a signal shot from the 
rim rock to give me the earliest news of his return. 
He put out the lamp, he kissed me goodbye, and 
was gone. 

From the inner edge of the bed I could see 
through the window, and watched Orion rising 
behind the cliffs. The night turned pale, then after 
a long time the great gaunt precipice was revealed 
in tender primrose light and amber shade. I heard 
our riders saddle, mount, and canter away for the 
day's work. The two Chinamen went off also on 
some domestic errand. The sunrise caught the 
pines upon the rim rock into points of flame. I 
heard a distant shot, and fell asleep. 

The widow had stumped about nearly all night, 
weary to the tip of her wooden leg, poor soul, so 
when I woke again and crept to the lean-to door. 



NATIVITY 



187 



it was a relief to find that she had gone to sleep. 
She had left me a saucepan full of bread and milk, 
which I warmed, and it warmed me nicely. 

Mrs. O'Flynn asleep is like peace after war. 
Dressing in stealth, I prayed for Peace in our 
Time, then with a sweet enjoyment of fresh guilt, 
stole out into the sunshine. 

Instead of Jesse's whistling, Mick's barking, the 
altercations in the new ram-pasture where our 
cowboys live, the snuffles of old Jones, our yard 
was filled with the exact opposite. Of course each 
sound has its opposite, its shadow, making a gap 
in the chorus of things heard, and when all the 
homely voices are replaced by gaps, one feels the 
desolation of the High Lonesome. Yet I fled 
away lest the widow's vengeful stump should over- 
take me. I was so tired of being in bed. 

The silver spring, the glade of marigolds, the 
briar rose brake, are all most necessary before one 
ventures into the cathedral grove, for it is not well 
to pass direct from any wordly home into a holy 
place. And yet I felt that something was badly 
wrong, for evil persons must have come in the 
night and stretched the trail to double its usual 
length. I was very angry, and I shall tell my 
husband. 

I reached the grove, at this cool hour so like a 
green lagoon where coral piers branch up to some 
ribbed vault. The waves of incense, the River's 
organ throb, the glory in the windows, gave me 
peace, but the choir of the winds had gone away, 
and for once in that sweet solitude I was lonely. 



I 



,88 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

My sitting is at the root of the governcM tree, and 
Jesse's under the great father pine. If he were 
only there, how it would ease the pain. I needed 
him so badly as I sat there, trying to make him 
present in my thoughts. He had gone away, and 
the squirrel who lives in the widow tree, had taken 
even his match ends. Only the cigar stubs were 
left, which would of course be bad for the squirrel s 
children. I wasn't well enough to call, but I left 

my nut. ... 

Close by is the terrific verge of the inner canyon, 
and sitting at the very edge of Death I saw into 

the mists. . , , ..... j t 

It was so foolish. Why should I be frightened of 
Death, such a coward in bearing pain? And yet 
I had better confess the truth, that presently I ran 
away screaming, my skirt torn by brambles, my 
feet caught in the roots. Only when I passed the 
place where my anemones live, and, beyond the 
East door of the grove came out into full sunlight 
I could go no further, but fell to the ground 
exhausted. Yes, it was very silly, and that blind 
panic shamed me as I looked up at the crescent of 
silvery birch trees who hold court at the foot of the 

upper cliff. , 

Something small and black was coming towards 

me, a clergyman too, and nervous, because he 

twiddled his little hat. 
"Are you in pain? " he asked. 
"Are you a fairy? " I answered wondering. I 

couldn't think of anything else at the moment, for 

our lost ranche is so far from everywhere. 



NATIVITY 



189 



" No, Madame," he said quite gravely. "I'm 
only a curate. May I sit down? " 

My heart went out to him for he was so little, 
so old, English like me, but with the manner of 
the great world. When he sat down he took care 
not to hurt one of my flowers. 

" I fear I'm trespassing," he said, " in your 
royal gardens. May I introduce myself? My 
name is Nisted — Jared Nisted, once an Army 
chaplain, now a tourist." 

Was he real, or had I imagined him? " My 
name is Kate," I answered. " My husband would 
be ever so pleased to make you welcome. But he's 
away." 

"And are you lonely? " 

" Not now." Somehow the pain and fear were 
gone as though they dared not stay in the serene 
presence of this dear old saint. "Are you sure," 
I ventured, " that you're not a " 

" Fairy? Believe me, de'T lady, I'm a very 
commonplace little person. 

" A humble admirer of yours, one Tearful 
George, has been kind enough to bring me here in 
his buckboard, which has complaining wheels, a 
creaky body, and such a wheezy horse. He, 
Tearful George I mean, contracted for seventy-five 
dollars to bring me to Paradise and back ; but as 
we creaked our passage through that weird black 
forest, I feared my guide had taken the pathway 
which leads to the Other Place. I confess, the 
upper forest frightened me, and now, having come 
to Paradise, I don't want to go back." He sighed. 



I'-; A 



m 



igo JESSE OF CARIBOO 

" George," he added, "is making camp up yonder. 
You know where the Three Birch Trees are all 
using a single pool as their mirror? " 

Of course these were the Three Graces. 

" Each of them," said my visitor, " seems to 
think the others quite superfluous." 

That was true. I asked him if anyone was there. 

"A lady, yes." 

" That's the minx." 

" Indeed. Fact is, Mrs. Smith, she was bath- 
ing, and George insisted, most stupidly I think, 
on watering his horde at that pool. I mounted 
guard, with my back turned of course, and tried 
to persuade the good man to water his horse else- 
where. He couldn't see any sanguinary lady in 
the rosy pool, and you know the poor fellow has 
but a very meagre choice of words. He reviled 
me, and my progenitors, and if you'll believe me, 
my dear mother was not at all the sort of person 
George described. He made me feel so plain too, 
with his candour about my personal appearance. 
And all that time while George made my flesh 
creep with his comments, the lady in the pool was 
splashing me. I'm still quite damp." 

" Did the horse see? " 

" Do horses wink, Mrs. Smith ? Do they smile ? 
Can they blush? The Graces shook their robes 
above our heads, the squirrels gossiped, the rippled 
pool caught glints from the rising sun, and a flight 
of humming birds came whirring, as though they 
had been thrown in George's face. Them san- 
guinary birds, he said, was always getting in the 



NATIVITY 



191 



ruddy way. As to the old horse, he kicked up 
his heels and pranced off sideways down the glen, 
and the man followed, rumbling benedictions." 

I explained that my dear husband cannot see the 
minx, that my servant dare not look. 

" I doubt," said Father Jared, with regret, 
" that very few fairies nowadays are superstitious 
enough to believe in us poor mortals." 

For that I could have kissed him. 

" They used," the dear old man went on, "to 
believe in our forefathers, but there is a very 
general decline of faith. It is not for us to blame 
them. What fairy, for example, could be expected 
to believe in Tearful George ? He chews tobacco." 

" Oh tell me more about her— Did she speak to 
you? She's fearfully dangerous. She nearly 
murdered Billy." 

" She thinks," he retorted, " that you're a 
wicked woman." 

"Me?" 

" Yes, you. She said you would run away, and 
you did. I am to tell you that's very unwise." 

"Please tell the minx to mind her own business." 

I' What is her business? " he asked mildly. 

" Being a fairy, I suppose. I'll never forgive 
her for irhat she did to Billy. Besides," I added, 

she makes fun of us." 

' No wonder, for we humans are so stupid." 

" She's full of mischief." 

"Of course." The old man's eyes twinkled and 
blinked as though— I can't set words to fit that 
puzzled memory. He had told me twice that he 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



19a 

.-.t a fairv " I am to tell you from my Lady, 
was-'otatairy. ' "" Winds, waves, and 

T ''thiL" he saiX •• are lEuil of'mischief and 

'"^^tlr The sun has room to sparkle even in a 

^^^d heT!::n touches our li^ ^^^ -"^ ^ - 

S-"l^ch1^-2"«?fe^ 

never shines on any clouded soul. _ 
" Mv soul is clouded. Help me. 
..fL"*r."l.es„».d.Uhhl.o,dkM,d^. 

dear, is the weather in which the Spirit lives. 
" But sorrow and tears? " „;»»,„„. 

.. Why, how can the sun make rainbows without 

rain?" 

'• You'll praise pain next I 

"That is a sacra,t.ent." he «n«^«^ «^*^2^ 
" the outward sign of inward grace. For how else 
can Go^ r^ch through the selfishness down to the 

^t^^r'aVlomeback, but it was welcome now 
On the left were the solemn pines, and at their 

fee?wWte flowers; on the right were my air bm:h 

eLTand the glade between lay in --"-^^^; 

" Uft up your hearts," whispered the priest, 

and I saw Vy trees, which in winter storm and 



NATIVITY 



193 



summer sun alike show their brave faces to the 
changing sky. 

" We lift them up unto the Lord," they seemed 
to answer. ^^ 

" It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, 
he responded, then looked as it seemed into my 
very soul. 

I saw the dear priest's face through tears, but 
when I brushed them away, the mist remained. 
He seemed remote, awful, and beautiful. 

" There is a place," he said, " where souls 
awaiting incarnation, rest, and from that place 
they come, borne by messengers. A messenger 
was waiting in these woods, no evil spirit, my 
daughter, but one who came bearing a child to you. 
She stands august and lovely at your back, and 
in her arms the soul of a man-child, just on the 
verge of incarnation, waits at the boundary of the 
Spirit Land. 

" The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness 
comprehendeth it not. 

" That light is all around you, and I must go. 
This very ground is holy. Fare you well." 
• ••••• 

Two "days had passed since my dear Jesse left, 
then through the long day I waited in the house, 
and the blue gloom of night swept up the glowing 
cliff. It was then I heard the signal shot from the 
rim rock, and told my baby David that his father 
was coming home. 






I 



CHAPTER XIV. 



THE LOCKED HOUSE. 

There ends Kate's Manuscript. 

The book of our adventures which we began 
together, was to go on through all our years. We 
were too young to think how it must some time 
finish at our parting, that one of us two was to be 
left, with only the broken end, the pity of Christ, 
and every word a stabbing memory. 

Since I lost Kate is four years to-night, and in 
all that time till now, I never dared to enter the 
house where once she lived with me, her poor fool 
Jesse. To-day, I unlocked the door. The sun- 
light, glinting through chinks in the boarded 
windows, fell in long dust-streaks on rat-eaten 
furniture, grey cobweb, scattered ashes. There 
was the puppy piano, green with mould, her work 
basket, half eaten, her writing table littered with 
rat-gnawed paper. The pages are yellow, the ink 
is rusty brown, but the past is alive in every line, 
the living past, the sunny warm scented land of 
memory, all full of love and glory and delight, and 
agony which cannot be taken from me. 

If she were here with me in the old log cabin, 
she should not see me mourning, or afrau! to face 
the past, or dreading to set an end to our Book. 
IM 



THE LOCKED HOUSE 195 

She expected courage, and I will face it out. write 
the ast chapter in our Book of Life, then bury it 
all, lest anyone should see. 1 warm and burn my 
hands at the fires of memory, and if the fine sweet 
pain were taken from me, what should I have left 
but cobweb, and ashes, dust, and the smell of rats. 
How wonderful it is to think that a great lady, 
and this Ignorant, callous brute shown up in the 
rotted manuscript should ever have been man and 
w fe together. When I think of what I was- 
>lh erate, slovenly, lazy, selfi-h, brutal, meanly 

h» °^h' T°\T!y "'""'■ ' ^« how it was right 
hat she should leave me. It has taken me bluer 
lonely years to realise that I was unworthy to be 
her servant while she tamed me. So much the 
greater mystery is the love which made amends for 
my shortcomings, made her think me better than 
I was, a something for which she sacrificed herself, 
and in self-sacrifice became like the great angels 
which she saw in dreams. ^ 

Jt^Z '^'"' ""' u"" ^'°"' P°"y herself, which 
't. without being warned. " Opium, Jesse an 
overdose of opium did the trick, and pain to make 

shoi „„ h' '°'P''' """ """"^ f^°'" 'he butcher-s 
shop poured over my face as I laid there. You 
was no husband for such as me with Brooke around 
the man I'd kept. Shucks, did ye think Td ^ 

screa:,i?'^if^^ '° "'' ""' ''' "'^^^ "^ -""<""^ 
screaming ,f men came near, with all Abilene 

gnnmng, and you drunk as Noah? That was no 

way to treat a lady. That was no cinch for me a^ 






JESSE OF CARIBOO 



I 



196 

V . .It iM • mind to. Pshaw, n 

fSn^aCrrS'^frnVn^bit'^'^ir .Wn.. and 
he cSi, Xfs He-f I've had my ?-"8e ^^^ 

this letter, coming to live m yo"' h°me If I don 

you dead away, he, an<l j*** "f " ", f-QL That 
since you let him get off alive, you fool. 
oueht to spiash yer. ... y 

'•And if I didn't love, d'ye reckon that I d care 
Your deserted true wife, 

Polly Smith. 

PS.— I'll be to your ranch Monday." 

« # * * 

My husbind Jas still at dinner when we heard 
a horseman come thundering in, the oW Ca^gador 
Pete Mathson, spurring a weary ho se ""^Jd "^ 
yard. Jesse ^<-^ }^^ .^^'^Z f^ys :.:^^l 

5:isS.^^-S'^s{is^er 



THE LOCKED HOUSE 



197 



When the letter fell from his hands he walked 
away, making no sound at all. 

I sat on my little stool and took the letter. The 
paper felt like something very offensive, so that I 
had to force myself to read, and even then without 
understanding one word. I went and washe- my 
hands and face, why I don't know, except that it 
was better not to make a scene. I came back to 
my stool. 

Pete stood in the doorway very nervous about 
his hat, as though he tried to hide it away. I 
remember telling him quite gravely that I like to 
see a hat. 

" Cap Taylor, ma'am," he was saying, " told 
me to get here first by the horse trail, so I rode 
helUfor-leather. They'll be another hour comin' 
by road." 

"Another hour ? " 

"A stranger's driving. Mebbe moren' an hour." 

Then Jesse came back. 



i 



I found my Lady seated on her stool, that letter 
in her hands, while Pete uneasy, clicked his spurs 
in the doorway. I asked if he'd take a message. 

" Burning the trail," he said. 

" Say, if she comes, I'll kill her." 

" Not that," my Lady whispered, so I knelt 
down by her, and she stroked my forehead. 

" I didn't catch your words," said Pete. 

" Promise," my Lady whispered, " there must 
be no murder." 



iqS 



JESSE OP CARIBOO 



" Tell her, Pete," said I, "there'll be no murder. 
I can't let her off with that— give her (air warning." 

Pete rode away slow, 

" Wife," I whispered. We vpoke in whispers, 
because it was the End of ti'<e world for us two, 

_. 'u trust me? " 

She kissed my forehead. 

" Tell me," she said, " one thing. Polly was 
not dead? " 

" She shammed dead. She's alive Kate. She's 
coming here. Take David away. Take him to 
South Cave, to Father Jared's camp." 

" What will you do?" 

" Lock the house before it's defiled." 

"And then dear? " 

" When she's gone, I'll come to the Cave too." 

Kate took David, letting me kiss him, letting me 
kiss her, even knowing everything, let me take her 
into my arms. She was very white, very quiet. 
She even remembered to take her servant, and the 
two Chinamen, making some excuce to get them 
away. I locked the house, and the old cabin. 
Then I made the long call to Ephrata, and went to 
the Apex RocI:, calling until he answered from 
among the Jog-tooth violets. He climbed straight 
up the steep rocks, whimpering, because I'd 
scarcely called him once in fourteen months. He 
rubbed against me, forgetting he hefted eleven 
hundred pounds, and then I had to scratch his 
neck before we started, up to the house, ihtn to 
the left along the waggon track just past Cathedral 
Grove. 



THE LOCKED HOUSE 199 

The waggon was swinging round the end of the 
grove at a canter, and when I le' out a yell for the 
last warning, the wotfan only snatched at the 
driver's whip to flog the team faster. Then I 
turned loose my bear, he rearing up nine feet or 
so to inspect that outfit. 

The horses shied into the air, then off at a gallop 
straight for the edge of the cliffs. The woman 
was shot out as the waggon overturned, the driver 
caught for a moment while his waggon went to 
matchwood. He lay in the wreckage stunned, but 
the horses went blind crazy, taking that twelve 
hundred feet leap into the Frascr Rapids. So I 
had aimed, and as I'd promised my Lady to do no 
n.urder, I kept my bear beside me. 

The driver was awake and staggering to his 
feet. He would ha^ e talked, only my bear was 
with me, hard to hold by the roach hair. The man 
needed no telling, and after he escaped from my 
ranchs, I did not see him there in the years which 
followed. 

The woman, standing in the wreckage of her 
trunks, wanted to talk. We herded her, Eph and 
I, to the foot of the pack trail, which leads up by 
steep jags to the rim rock of the upper cliffs, then 
on through the black pines to Hundred Mile. We 
herded her up the pack trail, my bear and I, and 
pomted her on her way, alone, afoot. If she lived 
through that eighty miles, she would remember 
the way, the way which is barred. 

**•*♦» 

I was waiting for Jesse until the low sut> shone 



: 



aoo 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



into the Cave. All that letter, which had been a 
blur of horror, cleared now before ray mind, but 
Father Jared held rae by the hands, drawing the 
pain away. He had given me tea, he had made 
me a very throne of comfort in front of his camp 
fire. David slept in my lap, and now while the 
dear saint held my hands, and I looked through 
the smoke out towards the setting sun, he spoke 
of quaint sweet doings in his hermitage. He spoke 
as a worldly anchorite with a portable bath, of his 
clumsy attempts to patch a worn-out cassock, and 
how the squirrels tried to superintend his prayers 
at evensong. Then the sun caught the walls of 
the cave and the roof to glowing beryl and ethereal 
ruby, the smoke was a rose hued thread of light, 
and the deep canyon at our feet filled with a 
shadowy sea of flooding amethyst. 

" Kate, it is evensong. We see the steep way 
of to-morrow's journey, the pain and sorrow only 
from here to the next hill. But presently our way 
shall be revealed from star to star. We pass at 
twilight from earthly sunshine and fretted time, 
into the timeless ageless glory of the Heavens. We 
sleep in Heaven among stars, and when we wake 
again we rise filled with the Presence of the Eternal 
to put immortal power into our daily service." 

The sun had set, and the first star just shone out, 
as Jesse came, standing at the mouth of the cave, 
dark against the glory. I could not see his face. 

The Father released me, turning to my dear 
man. " Josse," he said, " won't you shake hands 
with me ? 



THE LOCKED HOUSE 201 

" You see," he added, "I made a mistake myself, 
thinking a priest should be celibate to win love 
from on high. But in its fullest strength God's 
love comes through a woman to shine upon our 
life— and so I've missed the greatest of His gifts. 
Your wife has told me everything, and I'm so 
envious. Won't you shake hands? I've been so 
lonely. Won't you?" 

But my man stood in the mouth of the cave, as 
though he were being judged. 

" This filth," he said, " out of the past. This 
filth." 

His voice sounded as though he were dead. 

" The Law," he said, " I've come to find out 
what's the Law? " 

" Man's Law? " 

" I suppose so." 

" But I don't know. I'm only r /ery ignorant 
old man, your friend if you'll have me." 

" What do you think ? " 

" So far as I see Jesse, the woman can arraign 
you on a charge of bigamy. Moreover if you seek 
divorce she can plead that there's equal guilt, from 
which there's no release." 

"And that's the Law? " 

" Man's Law. But Jesse, when you and Kate 
were joined in Holy Matrimony, was it Man's Law 
which said, • Whom God hath joined, let no man 
put asunder.' What has Man's Law to do with 
the awful Justice of Almighty God ? 

■'And here, my son, I am something more than 
a foolish old man." He rose to his feet, making 



aoa 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



the sign of the Cross. " I am ordained," he said, 
" a Barrister to plead at the Bar of Heaven. Will 
you not have me as your adviser, Jesse? " 

" Whom God hath joined," Jesse laughed 
horribly, " that harlot and I." 

"' She swore to love, honour and obey? " 

" Till Death us part 1 " 

"And that was perjury? " 

"A joke ! A joke ! " 

" That was not marriage my son, but blasphemy, 
the sin beyond forgiveness. The piteous lost 
creature has never been your wife. She tried to 
break her way into our poor world of life and love. 
It is forbidden, and she was fearfully wounded. 
To-day she tried again, and is there, in that forest, 
with the falling night." 

" I told her what she is, straight from the 
shoulder." 

" Who made her so? " 

Jesse lowered his head. 

" Who made her the living accusation of men's 
sins? She is the terrible State's evidence, God's 
Evidence which waits to be released in the Day of 
Judgment. You told her straight from the 
shoulder. Judge not that ye be not judged. 
Remember that of all the men she knew on earth, 
you only can plead not guilty." 

" Because I married her? " asked Jesse humbly. 

" Because you tried. You gave her your clean 
name, your pure life, your manhood, an act of 
knightly chivalry. Arthur, Galahad, Perceval, 
Launcelot, and many other gentlemen who are now 



THE LOCKED HOUSE 303 

at rest will seek your friendship in the after life. 
You are being tried as they were tried in that fierce 
flame of temptation which tests the finest manhood. 
" Only a cur would blame the weak. Only a 
coward would accuse the Lost. But in your 
manhood remember her courage Jesse. Forgive 
as you hope for pardon. Keep your life clean, 
from every touch of evil, but o the world stand up 
for the hone T of the name you gave her " 
" I will." 
" You forgive? " 
" Yes." 

" You will pray for her? " 
" I will pray." 

"And now the hardest test has still to come, 
for your wite's honour and for the child, you must 
keep their names stainless, clear of all reproach 
while you await God's Judgment. They must 
leave you Jesse." 
" Oh, not that Sir ! " 
" Can they stay here in honour? " 
" No." 

"Can you run away?" 
" Never I " 

" Then you must part." 

Jesse covered his face with his hands, and there 
against the deepening twilight I saw shadows 
reaching out from him, as though-slowly the 
shadows took form of high shouldered wings and 
mighty pinions sweeping to the ground. 
He looked up, and behold he was changed. 
Pray for me Sir ! " he whispered. 



a04 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Then the Priest raised his hand, and gave him 

the Benediction. 

• • • • J • 

It is years now since my Lady left me. Never 
has an axe touched her trees, or any human creature 
entered her locked house. The rustle of her dress 
is in the leaves each fall, the pines still echo to her 
voice. I hear her footsteps over the new snow, I 
feel her presence when I read her books. I know 
her thoughts are spirits haunting me, and all things 
wait until she comes back. Not until I lost my 
Lady did I ever hear that faint, thin, swaying echo 
when her Grove seemed to be humming tunes. At 
times when dew was falling, I have heard the 
pattering of millions and millions of little feet, 
just as she said, making the grass bend. 

The papers often have pictures of my Lady, the 
last as the Elektra of Euripides. I love her most 
of all in the Grecian robes, for once she dreamed 
that she and I had been Greeks in some lost 
forgotten life. Perhaps this is not our only life, 
or our last life, and we may be mated in some 
place yet to come, where we shall not part. 

Tears drop on the paper, and shame poor fool 
Jesse. The Book says that He shall wipe away 
all tears. If my bear had only lived, I should not 
have been so lonely- I wonder if — God help me, 
I can't write more. The book is finished. 



PART III. 



CHAPTER I. 



SPITE HOUSE. 

The Book is not finished. This book of Jesse's 
life and mine is not finished while she who set us 
asunder is allowed to live. ' Vengeance is mine,' 
saith the Lord, ' I v'.ll repay.' We wait. 

What impulse moved my man after four years 
to enter that tragic house ? He read our Book, so 
piteously stained, this heap of paper scrawled with 
rusty ink. He added parts of a chapter, which I 
have finished. It is all blotted with fears, this 
record of his life— childhood, boyhood, youth, 
manhood, humour, passion — veritable growth of 
an immortal spirit— annals of that love which 
lifteth us above the earth— «nd then ! 

What did the woman gain who stole our happi- 
ness? A fairy gold, changing to ashes at the 
glint of day, for which she lost her soul. 

Caught in the leaves there is a long pine needle. 
So it was among the bull pines of C thedral Grove 
that Jesse sought to bury this record. Then know- 
ing that his life was not all his to bury, he sent 
aofi 



ao6 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



me this dear treasure, so breaking the long, long 
silence. 

How precious are even the littlest memories of 
love I Here is the muddy footprint of our kitten, 
and Jesse's ' witness my hand.' Here is a scrap 
of pa]}er, inked and rinsed to reveal some secret 
writing of those poor outlaws. Pages of wrath 
from our Visitors' Book — and the long pine needle. 

" Belay thar I " as Jesse said. " We're hunting 
happiness while sorrow's chasing us. Takes a 
keen muzzle and runaway legs to catch up happi- 
ness, while sorrow's teeth is reachin' for yo' tail." 

So I must try to catch up happiness. I have 
notes here of dear Father Jared, made at the time 
when he was bringing me with Baby David home. 
I remember we sat in our deck chairs on the sunny 
side of the ship, watching a cloud race out in 
mid-Atlantic. We talked of Home. 

" You see my dear," I copy from my notes, 
" we have in our Blessed Isles an atmosphere 
lending glamour to all things, whether a woman's 
skin or a slum town. Why British portraiture 
and landscape are resf)ected, even by our own Art 
Critics, and they are far from lenient." I replied 
that I wanted air, air for King David. 

" Now when we come to Air that's very serious. 
North of the Tweed the Air produces Scotchness, 
across St. George's Channel it makes Irishiiess. 
Then in the Principality it makes most people 
Welsh, to say nothing of the Yarkshire vintage, 
or Zummerzet, or the ' umble 'ornes of the East 
Anglians." 



SPITE HOUSE ao7 

" But that's not what I mean. Some places are 
so relaxing." 

" Or bracing, or just damp, eh ? Do you know 
my dear, that at Frognall End mushrooms are 
fourpence a pound." 

That has nothing to do with it " 

''Are you sure ? " The delicious fairy look came 
to h,s eyes. " Of course They prefer the Russian 
kmd of mushrooms with red tops-warmer to sit 
on. That s why They love Russia, and Russian 
hearts stay young. And besides, they like to live 

"''If'^ P^?P'\^'« ^^^"y «"d tf"Iy superstitious. 
1 hats what's so wrong with England. Ah, 

Board Schools, and plant red mushrooms. Then 
of course the Fairies will each have an endowed 
mushroom, the children will be properly taught 

aftemards.'' '°""^' "' "' '''^" ""^ ''^PP^'J' ^""^ 
•• Do you know I called on the Prime Minister, 
and, poht.cs apart, he's not at all a bad fellow 
ZlT^^^"'^'^' ^'P^'^^^^y «bout drowning the 
?on,l°n ^'•"^"!'°"' ""' 'hen the Nonconformist 
Conscience would get shocked, while as to the 
Treasury-Bigots my dear, are getting more 
bigotty every day." ^ ^ 

I was getting mixed. 

''So you see Kate, with mushrooms at fourpence 
a pound, u stands to reason that they're verv 
p entiful at Frognall End, with Fairies'^in s^r^^ 
proportion : one mushroom-one Fairy that is in 
English weather. In a dry season of^courS thej 



ao8 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

can sit on the ground, although it wouldn't be 
quite the thing; whereas in wet weather they really 
require their mushrooms— and you know they're 
much too careless to clear up afterwards. Yes, at 
Frognall End young David would get what mod<irn 
children need so very badly— some wholesome 
uneducation." 
This the Father explained in all its branches. 

1. Consider the Lilies. 

2. Take no thought for the morrow. 

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure, the 
merciful, the peacemakers. 

4. Suffer the little children to come unto me. 

" You see," he added wistfully, " the churches 
have to preach a heap of doctrines piled twenty 
centuries high— with Truth squashed flat unuer- 
neath. The poor are very worrysome too, and 
there's such a lot of heathen to convert. Why all 
our educated people belong to Societies for reform- 
ing their neighbours, and yet— and yet— well fairies 
have a nicer time than curates." 

Frognall End, where my saint is curate-in- 
charge, is on the River near Windsor, and there I 
went to live with Baby David. It was there I 
learned that heartache is a cultivated plant not 
known along the hedgerows, that peace may be 
found so long as the gorse blooms, that love grows 
lustiest where it has least soil. For the rest, please 
see the Revd. Jared Nisted's " Fairyland " which 
is full of most important information for all who 
are weary and heavy laden. Its text is from the 



SPITE HOUSE 



ao9 



Logia of Christ ; " Raise the stone, and thou shall 
find Mej cleave the wood and I am there." 

From the first my heaven-born was interested in 
milk, later in a growing number of worldly things, 
but It was not until last winter by the fireside that 
we really had serious tales all about Wonderland. 
It s a difficult place to reach but when you get 
down the cliff, and feel your neck to make quite 
sure U's not broken, you come to the witch who 
has a wooden leg. She lives in the Dus* House, 
where the Dust Fairies want to sleep, only she will 
worry them with her broom. When they are 
worried, they dance with the Sunbeam Fairy who 
comes in through the window, and never breaks the 
glass. 

There's a fairy mare called Jones, who lost her 
Christian name in a fit of temper, and always 
Marches for it with her hind legs. There's a Fairy 
Bear who is not a truly Grizzly, though he does 
live in a grizzly bear skin even when it's cver-so-hot 
weather. He's a great hunter too, and likes sports- 
men so much that they keep getting fewer, and 
Fewer, and Fewer. The last sportsman was a 
Fairy Doctor called McGee, who perched all day 
^ng ,n a tree like the Fowls-of-the-Air, practising 
Bird-calls, while the Fairy Bear sat underneath 
taking care of his rifle. 

Wonderland is full of stories, especially about 
Mr^ Man. When Mr. Man was stolen away by 
Robbers, and tied up with fiddle-strings in a ferry 
house, well-David flatly refused to go to bed untH 
we'd come to the Ferry across Dream River. 

N 



aio JESSE OF CARIBOO 

David's dog came of an alliance between two 
noble families, so his name is Whiskers Retriever- 
Dachshund, Esq., P.T.O. David's cat who died 
expensively in a pail of cream was Mrs. Bull 
Durham. Ginger was a squirrel in the garden, 
and the Dago was a Badger who lived a long way 
off beyond the grumpy cow. Dog, cat, squirrel and 
badger were all of them Robbers, but David would 
have been quite wretched if he had caught them 
doing anything dishonest. 

Did I mention Mr. Man ? He was a Hero who 
lived in Fairyland, and didn't believe in Fairies, 
who spoke with a slow, sweet Texan drawl, who 
loved and protected all living creatures except 
Politicians, who believed in God, in Mother 
England, and in Uncle Sam, and who always 
wrote long letters to his mother. David said his 
funny prayers for Mother, and Whiskers, and all 
kind friends " and make me good like Mr. Man 
in Wonderland. Amen. Now tell mt some 
wobbers Mummie." 

Although David has decided to be a tram con- 
ductor, he still takes some little interest in other 
walks of life. Once on the tow path he asked an 
old gentleman who was fishing, what he was 
fishing for, and got the nice reply : "I often 
wonder." And it was on this path beside the 
Thames, that one day last November he made a 
big friendship. His nurse was passing a few 
remarks with a young man who asked the way to 
my house, and Baby went ahead pursuing his 
lawful occasions. Curious to know what it felt 



SPITE HOUSE a„ 

like to be a real fish, he was stepping into the 
inSred. "" """"' ''' "•'^" "«' ^^""^ """ 
J.'J^^^Z"'^.^'^" ^''^ °^^'** wrathfully, then 

^ theTi '" '''""' "' «"' "^y ^"^^^ "*' «"y-y' 

II That's so," the young man agreed. 
" I say," David grew confident. " Mummie 
says It s in the paper, so it's all right." 
" What's that Sonny? " 

fici,'^ ""!! u°^ *''^' *"'"' '" 'o ^^ about some 
hshes, and that man what swum and swum, and 

vo^TTA ^' ^TJ"'^ '" "'^ P"P"- S° n°* 'tend 
you look de udder way." 

" Why I can't see nothen." 

"You can see. The game is for me to jump 
>n, and you swim." ^ 

" But I can't swim. I'm a sailor." 

It's Billy O'Flynn." 

•^h ^ T^""- ^°"'^« "°' ^ F^'iD' Billy ? " 
^_ Why what does you know about fairies? " 
Most truthfully you know, I don't believe in 
fames, but then it pleases Mummie " 

heaverSn"^' "h d' '''" ™^'''"^ f"^"'^^ *"h the 
h^ven-born, and Patsy, the nurse, came behind 
him craving with cotton gloved hands to touch the 
sailor's crisp short golden hair, and David g avl 
tried on the man's peaked cap. ^ ^ 

Yes." Billy agreed. " Fairies is rot when 



tiii] 



aia JESSE OF CARIBOO 

there's real gals about, with rosy cheek . a-btushin' 
an' cotton gloves." 

" Lawks I 'Ow you sailors does fancy your- 
selves," said Patsy, her shy fingers drawn by that 
magnetic gold of the man's hair. 

" Climb on my back and ride," said young 
O'Flynn to David, " I'll be a Fairy Horse." 

" The cheek of 'im 1 " jeered Patsy, " fairy 
*orse indeed I " 

Oh surely the Fairies were very busy about them, 
tugging at heart-strings, while Billy and Patsy fell 
head over ears in love, and my pert Cupid had 
them both for slaves. David rode Billy home, by 
his august command straight into my brown study, 
where I sat in my lazy chair. 

Was it my voice tellinp Baby to go and get dry 
feet? Was it my hand grasping Billy's horny 
paw? For I heard my roaring Canyon, saw my 
cliffs, my embattled sculptured cliffs, and once more 
seemed to walk with Jesse in Cathedral Grove. I 
could hear my dear man speaking across the years 
" Say Billy when you sawed off that table leg to 
make yo' mother's limb, what did yr do with the 
castor? " 

I laughed, I cried. Oh yes, of course I made 
a fool of myself. For this dear lad came out of 
Wonderland, this heedless ruffian who knew of my 
second marriage, who had such a tale to tell of 
" Madame Scotson." Oh haven't you heard? 
Her precious Baby David is illegitimate I Couldn't 
I hear my neighbour Mrs. Pollock telling that 
story at the Scandal Club. Then a discreet para- 



SPITE HOUSE 



ai.1 



graph from Magpie in " Home Truths " would be 
libel enough to brand a public singer. My mother 
would suggest ever so gently that in the interests 
of the Family, my retirement to a warmer climate- 
say Italy, would be so suitable. And Madame's 
illegitimate son would be barred from decent 
schools. Oh, I could see it all 1 

With his peajacket thrown open, wiping his 
flushed face with a re'd handkerchief, shifting from 
one foot to the other in torment of uneasiness, 
blowing like some sea beast come up from the 
deeps to breathe, Billy consented not to run away 
from my hysterics. 

Feeling ill-bred and common I begged Billy's 
pardon, made him sit down, tried ever so hard to 
put him at his ease. Poor lad I His father con- 
demned aS a felon, his mother such a wicked old 
harridan, his life to say the very least- uncouth. 
Yet somehow out of that rough savage face shone 
the eyes of a gentleman, and there was manliness 
In all he said, in everything he did. After that 
great journey for my sake how could I let him 
doubt that he was welcome. 

" I know I'm rough," he Said humbly, " but 
3^u seem to understand. You know I'm straight. 
You won't mind straight talk unless you're 
changed, anH you're not changed— at least not 
that way Mum." 

"Changed! Ah how changed I The looking 
glass had bitter things to tell me, and crving makes 
me such a frurnp. I never felt so plain'. And the 
eyes of a young man are brutally frank to women. 



**' 



314 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Don't mind about me Billy. Say what you've 
come to tell me." 

" Been gettin' it ready to say ever since I 
started for England. Look here mum, I want *o 
go back to the beginning, to when I was a kid, an' 
Mother kep' thpt hash house in Abilene. D'ye 
mind if I speak — I mean about this here Polly? " 

I set my teeth, and hoped he would be quick. 

" Well ye see mum, she only done it for a joke, 
and the way Jesse treated her " 

" I can't hear this." 

" You don't mind if I say that Mother and me 
haven't no use for Jesse? " 

" I know that." 

" Well Mother put her up to the idea. To get 
shut of him she shammed dead. I helped. I say 
she done right mum. If she'd let it go at that, 
I'd take her side right now." 

" Billy, was that a real marriage? " 

" It was that. She's Jesse's wife all right." 

There was something which' braced me in his 
callous frankness. " I hoped," I said, " go on." 

" Well Mother hated Jesse somethin' chronic. 
Afterwards when— well she had to run for the 
British Possessions, and we met up with Jesse 
again by accident. He give us a shack and some 
land, but Mother an' me had our pride. How 
would you like to take Charity? Mother hated 
him still worse, and don't you imagine I'd go back 
on her. She's my mother. 

" Then you married Jesse. Of course Mothe- 
and me both knew that Polly was alive. Fath>jr 



SPITE HOUSE 



215 



knew too — and Father w. ? around when no one 
but us ever seen him V\'u knev;- that Polly was 
alive, and Mother wiuld have f,' ven Jesse dead 
away only we stopptJ iier. Fa her said it was 
none of our business. Father iiktd Jesse, I thought 
the world of you, so when Mother wrote to Polly, 
we'd burn her letters." 

What an escape for us 1 

" Then you saved Mother from burning in that 
shack, and afterwards she hated Jesse worse, 
because she couldn't hit him for fear of hurting 
you. Oh she was mad because she'd got fond of 
you. 

"And you took us into your ranche. Charity 
again, and you sailin' under Protestant colours 
both of yez. The way Mother prayed for Jesse 
was enough to scorch his bones." Billy chuckled. 
" I ain't religious — I drink, and Mother's pro- 
fessin' Catholic cuts no figure with me. 

"Then there's the fightin' between Father's gang 
and Jesse's. Dad got hung, Jesse got the dollars. 
Rough, common, no-account white trash, like 
mother an' me, hears Jesse expounding the Scrip- 
tures. We ain't got no feelings same as you." 

Poor lad I Poor savage gentleman ! 

" You saved my life Mum — wid a club, and got 
me away from that ranche. Since then I've 
followed the Sea. There's worse men there than 
Jesse. I seen worse grub, worse treatment, worse 
times in general since I quit that ranche. Five 
years at sea " 

There was the glamour, the greatness of the Sea 



li 



3l6 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



in this lad's eyes, just as in Jesse's eyes. Sailors 
may be rugged, brutal, fierce — not vulgar. Men 
reach out into spaces where we sheltered women 
cannot follow. 

" Suppose I've grown," said Billy, " well mum, 
I got a notion to go home. Signed as A.B. in a 
four-masted barque Clan Innes out o' Glasgow, for 
Vancouver with general cargo. I quit her at 
Vancouver, made Ashcroft by C.P.R., blind 
baggage mostly, then hit the Road afoot. I 
thought I'd take my departure from the Fifty 
Nine." 

"The old bush trail?" 

" Hard goin', but then I expected of course 
Mother'd be there at the ranche, and you mum, 
an' Jesse of course, and " 

"The Minx?" 

Dreading his news, I fought for this one little 
respite before he came to all I feared. If Jesse 
lived, if he only lived! But at thought of the 
minx, Billy lapsed to a sheepish grin with one 
quaint glint of mischief. Then with the utmost 
gravity he asked me if Patsy my nursemaid ' was 
claimed.' 

" There's many a little craft dips her colours 
for one who wants me to stand by, but still — " 

" Patsy is free." 

" Faix I Can't help it, I backed my tawps'l." 

"Proposed?" 

" Save us I It's time to offer a tow when they're 
Union down, and a danger to navigation. Um. 
I'm off my course." 



SPITE HOUSE 



317 



" You must have found things changed when 
you got to the ranche." 

" Didn't get there. I'd news at Hat Creek, and 
kep' the road main north. Mother wasn't at the 
ranche any more. She'd poisoned Jesse's bear. 
Oh mum, I don't want to hurt." 

" Go on, dear lad." 

" Mother'd took up with Polly at Spite House." 

"Spite House?" 

" It's the Ninety Nine Mile House. There's a 
signboard right across the road : — 
THE NINETY NINE 
MRS. JESSE SMITH 
HOTEL, STORE. LIVERY. 

" She did that to spite Jesse, and they call the 
place Spite House." 

Just then the maid brought in the tea things, so, 
cowardly as usual, I played hostess, delaying all 
the news I dared not face. We gossiped of 
Captain Taylor's half-breed child. Wee James at 
school down East, of Tearful George married to 
that dreadful young person at Eighty Mile House 
who scratched herself at meals so Jesse said. At 
the Hundred-and-Four, where Hundred Mile Hill 
casts its tremendous shadow on the low lands 
northward, Pete Mathson and his wife were 
making new harness for the Star Pack Train. 
There a shadow fell on our attempt at gossip — 
why does the conversation always stop at twenty 
minutes past ? Billy began to tell me about Spite 
House. 

Spite House I How right Father Jared was. 



atS 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Sword versus Dragon," he told us, " is heroic : 
sword versus cockroach is heroics. Don't draw 
your sword on a cockroach." 

This much I tried to explain to young O'Flynn, 
whose Irish blood has a fine sense of humour. But 
the smile he gave me was one of pity, turning my 
heart to ice. " Jesse," he said, " made that 
mistake. That's why I've come six thousand mile 
to warn you. Howly Mother, if I'd only the 
eddication to talk so I'd be understood I 

" I'm going to try another course. See here 
Mum. You've heered tell of Cachalot whales. 
They runs say 80 tons for bull whales — 150 horse 
power, dunno how many knots, full of fight to the 
last drop of blood. That stands for Jesse. 

"And them sperm whales is so contemptuous 
of the giant squid they uses her for food. She's 
small along of a sperm whale, but she's mean as 
eight python snakes with a Devil in the middle. 
That'll do for Polly. 

" Well last voyage I seen one of them she- 
nightmares strangle a bull Cachalot, and the sight 
turned me sick as a dog. Now d'ye understand 
what Polly's doing. I told you I hated Jesse. I 
told you straight to your face why I hated him. 
And now mum I'm only sorry for poor Jesse." 

It was then I think that I began to be really 
terrified. Never in the old days at the ranche had 
Billy been off his guard even with me. Now he 
let me know his very heart. I could not help but 
trust him, and it was no small uneasiness which 
had brought the lad to England, 



SPITE HOUSE 



ai9 



I had fought so hard, schooling myself to think 
of Jesse as of the Dead with reverent tenderness. 
Little by little I had filled a bleak and empty 
widowhood with mother duties, womanly service, 
my holy Art of Song, and harmless Fairies, 
making the best of it while age and plainness were 
my destiny. Bui now of a sudden my poor peace 
was shattered, and that gift of Imagination which 
had imagined even contentment, played traitor and 
made havoc. Laws, conventions, mean respecta- 
bilities, seemed only cobwebs now. Love swept 
them all away, and nothing mattered. Jesse I 
Jesse I 

"Them devil-squids," he was saying, " has a 
habit of throwing out ink to fog the water, so you 
won't see what they're up to until they lash out 
to grapple. That's where they're so like this 
Polly. She's a fat, hearty, good-natured body, 
and it's the surest fact she's kind to men in trouble. 
Anybody can have a drink, a meal and a bed, no 
matter how broke he is; and Spite House is free 
hospital for the district. She'll sit up nights 
nursing a sick man, and, till I went an' lived there, 
I'd have sworn she was good as they make 'em. 
That's the ink. 

" Then you begins to find out, and what I didn't 
see, Mother would tell me. She'd been three years 
there. Besides I seen most of what we calls sailor 
towns, and I'd thought I'd known the toughest 
there was in the way of boardin' houses ; but rough 
house in 'Frisco itself is holiness compared with 
what goes on there under the sign of Mrs. Tgsse 
Smith. That name ain't exactly clean." 



aao 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" That's enough I think, if you don't mind. 
I'd rather have news about our old friends — 
Captain Taylor, for instance, and Iron Dale, and 
how is dear Dr. McGee? " 

" Dear Dr. McGee is it? Well you sec he lived 
within a mile of Polly. She got him drinkin', 
skinned him at cards, then told him he'd best shoot 
himself. The snow drifts through his house. 

"And Iron Dale? Oh of course he was Jesse's 
friend too. I'd forgot. She got him drunk, and 
went through him. That money was for paying 
his hands at the Skyline — wasn't his to lose, so he 
skipped the country. The mine closed down, and 
there wasn't no more packing contracts for Jesse." 

I began to understand what Billy meant, and it 
was with sick fear I asked concerning my dear 
man's staunchest friend, his banker. Captain 
Boulton Taylor. 

" You'd better know mum." There was pain 
in the lad's face, reluctance in his voice. " Being 
the nearest magistrate he tried to down Polly for 
keeping a disorderly house. But then as old man 
Taylor owned, he didn't know enough law to plug 
a rat hole. There ain't no municipality, so Spite 
House is outside the Law. But Polly's friends 
proved all the good she done to men who was hurt, 
or sick, or broke. Then she showed up how her 
store and hotel was cutting into the trade of 
Hundred Mile House. She brung complaints 
before the Government, so Taylor ain't magistrate 
now. The stage stables got moved from Hundred 
Mile to Spite House. The Post Office had to 



SPITE HOUSE 



331 



follow. Now he's alone with only a Chinaman. 
He's blind as a bat too, and there's no two ways 
about it— Bolt Taylor's dying." 
" Is there no Justicf left? " 
" Dunno about that. She uses a lot of Law." 

I dared not ask about Jesse. To sit still was 
impossible, to play caged tiger up and down the 
room would only be ridiculous. Still Billy's 
poisonous tobacco excused the opening of a window, 
so I stood with my back turned, while a November 
night closed on the river and the misty fields. 

How could I leave my Baby? How could I 
possibly break with Covent Garden — where my 
understudy, a fearsome female, ravened for the 
Part? The cottage would never let before our 
River Season. " Madame Scotson has been called 
abroad on urgent private business." 

" Of course," the lad was saying, " when Polly 
got to be postmistress, she handled Jesse's letters, 
held the envelopes in the steam of a kettle until 
they'd open, and gummed them when she was 
through — if she sent them on. She found out who 
he dealt with, and got them warned not to trust 
him. There's no letters now." 

"She wouldn't dare! " 

"No? You remember he sent you that book 
you wrote together at the ranche? " 

"You know that! " 

" I read it at Spite House. She had a heap of 
fun in the bar room with Jesse's letter. Her cat 
eyes flamed like mad." 

" There was no letter." 



aaa 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" She made a paper house of it, and set it alight 
to show how Jesse burned her home in Abilene. 
She was drunk too that night. But that's nothin'. 
Glad you didn't hear them yarns she put about the 
country. Jesse wasn't never what I'd call popular, 
but he ain't even spoken to now by any white man. 
His riders quit, his Chinamen cleared out. Then 
she bought Brown's ferry, had the cable took away, 
the scow sent adrift, and Surly Brown packed off. 
She'd heard that Jesse lived by his rifle, so she's 
cut him off from his hunting grounds. There's 
nothing left to hunt east of the Fraser." 
" He's starving? " 
" Shouldn't wonder." 
" Billy." 
" Yes 'm." 

" How soon can I get a ship? " 
" None before Saturday." 
" Go on. Tell me the worst." 
" The signs may read coarse weather or 
Typhoon. I dunno which yet. She's been locatin' 
settlers, along them old clearings in the black pine, 
and judging by samples I'd seen, she swept the 
gaols." 

" Why more than one? " I asked, " why all 
that expense when one would do? " 

" Who'd blackmail Polly afterwards ? She's no 
fool. She says straight out in public she'd shoot 
the man who killed him. But them thugs is 
planted in hungry land, they see his pastures the 
best in the district, and you know as well as I do 
he's a danger to all robbers. Why even when 



SPITE HOUSE 



233 



s jortsmen and tourists comes along his old gun 
gets excited. He hates the sight of strangers 
anyway. 

" Now all these years shf-'s goading him to loose 
out and break the law. That's why she's got the 
Constable protecting her at Spite House. Once 
she can get him breaking the law she has all them 
thugs— so many dollars a head— as witnesses. It 
ain't murder she wants. She says that when she 
went to his ranche that time, Jesse sent her a 
message by old Mathson ' I won't let her off with 
death.' 

" She won't let him off with death. Twice he 
has put her to shame in public. She'll never rest 
until she gets him hanged. There's only one 
thing puzzles me. I see its his silence, the waiting, 
which makes Polly wake up and screech at night. 
But I dunno myself— has Jesse lost his nerve? " 
" How do you know all this? " 
" She told Mother everything." 
"And your mother told -ou. Why?" 
" Because— say mum, you remember the thing 
your husband called Bull Durham ? " 
" Brooke." 

" Fancy Brooke, the thing which Polly kept like 
a pet lap-dog. The thing which turned State's 
evidence to hang my poor old Dad. Brooke's 
come to Spite House as Polly's manager. Yes, 
now you know why mother's got no more use for 
Polly— told me I'd best come to you and give you 
warning. That thing is at Spite House, and 
mother's gone." 



aj4 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" I see it all now. But one last question. How 
did you get to Lngland? " 

" Do you remember mum, that my poor Dad 
just thought the world of Jesse? " 

" I remember, a legacy for you, some ponies." 

" Weil, Jesse found out somehow that I was at 
Spite House. He sent me the value of them ponies, 
with only a rece.pt for me to sign. I reckon mum, 
that ruined and well nigh starving, he rode a 
hundred and sixty miles through the black pines, 
because he's honest. That's why I spent the 
money comin' to you. I wants to help." 



Dad 



CHAPTER II. 
THE IMPATIENT CHAPTER, 

This chapter is so difficult to start. It deals with 
a time when life had become impossible unless one 
could jump from here to Wednesday next, and 
thence to Monday fortnight. Of course the Book- 
is only meant for Jesse, for David, for me, and for 
those to come who may revere us as their ancestors. 
Thank goodness I am not a novelist ! Think of 
the fate of the professional writer whose hosts of 
' characters,' the bodiless papery creatures of his 
brain, will rise up in judgment to accuse their petty 
creator, to gibber at him, to make his dreams a 
nightmare. What novelist would escape that 
condemnation ? Dickens might be saved, perhaps 
Balzac. Tourguenev maybe, even Kipling, but 
in Heaven the writers will not be overcrowded. 

My characters are ready to hand, and my events 
are real, but how can I possibly weld the notes in 
waiting, to make an harmonious, sane, restful 
chapter whose very motif is Worry ? I give it up 
for what am I that I should do this thing? 

To i lb. of Artistic Temperament add i cup 
Celtic Blood! stir in a tablespoon of best Italian 
melody, add Humour and Laziness to taste ; then 
fry in moonlight over a slow anthem, and there 
you are. That's me 1 

o 



ai6 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



As a little girt I would prefer a ^bgoblin I 
couldn't see, to a real doll stuffed wim the best 
sawdust. If there happened to be any Daydreams 
about, Visions, or Reveries, I would play hostess 
and be well amused; but fend me from accounts, 
from business men, and from all the things you 
catch, such as trains and influenza. Hateful 
practical affairs have to be faced, but I rush them 
to get through quick. 

Have you noticed that artists who vend feelings 
as a grocer sells sugar, are always accused of being 
callous? I sent David with his nurse to slay with 
Father Jared, so mother called me a cold-blooded 
wretch. I abandoned my part at the Opera to a 
weird ravening female who can't sing, so my 
manager called me an atheist. My maids had to 
pack and run to escape storage with the furniture 
at the " Pecking and Toolham Emporiums "; my 
little home passed to a gentleman with mourning 
nails, diamonds, and a lisp; my bits and scraps 
of stock were sold and the proceeds banked with 
the Hudson's Bay Company. Then came casual 
farewells to Baby and Father Jared, and, just as the 
train pulled out, the district nurse threw a bunch 
of violets. So I broke down and howled, won- 
dering damply why. Even then I longed for my 
dear wilderness where every wind blows clean, for 
the glamour of an austere land braving the naked 
eternities, the heart of a lonely man who dared to 
do his duty, all, all that was real and great in life, 
calling me, calling me Home. 

The keenest pleasure which ever money gave me 



THE IMPATIENT CHAPTER aj; 

came when Billy and I helped in the drafting of 
a cable order from the Hudson's Bay Company in 
London to that bland magnifico who manages their 
branch Palace at Vancouver. One always feels 
that if one happened to want a Paris hat, a bag 
of nuts, and a monkey, this Vancouver potentate 
would make a parcel of them without the slightest 
fear of their getting mixed. As to surprising the 
Company, one might as well tickle the Alps. So 
here is the telegram : — 

" Provide three sleighs each with two horses 
engage two reliable bush teamsters six months' 
guaranteed bonus for secrecy and fidelity. 

" Referring to previous requirements of Jesse 
Smith, load No. i sleigh to capacity with provi- 
sions luxuries ammunition books consigned to him 
via bush trail from 59 Mile House Cariboo Road. 
Referring to Captain Taylor's past requirements 
and present sickness load No. 2 sleigh with stores 
invalid comforts consigned 100 Mile House. Each 
driver to present load rig and team with personal 
services and to forward consignee's receipt. 

" Hire third sleigh with team one month, furnish 
furs on approval, equipment, comforts suitable to 
bush travel and residence of a lady. Place in 
charge of young competent civil engineer bringing 
instruments and assistant to report to Madame 
Scotson arriving Ashcroft Pacific Limited 20 inst. 

Absolute secrecy required. Charge Scotson." 

So far the impulse had moved me to be quick 

before I repented, and the journey gave time for 



228 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

that. Leaving the sweet majesty and serene order 
of the English landscape, I made the usual passage 
by S.S. Charon across the Styx to New York, 
where I caught a stuffy train for the transit of an 
untidy continent. And so, in the starry middle of 
a night, I was met at Ashcroft. 

The civil engineer sent by the Hudson's Bay 
Company, was Mr. Sacrifice T. Eure. He stood 
uncovered, and while his ears froze, spelled his 
name to me, explaining that there were two syllables 
in ' Eure ' with accent on the first. He seemed to 
convey an offer of protection, to claim my friend- 
ship, to take charge of my affairs, and with perfect 
modesty to let me know that he was competent. 
Mud coloured hair hung dank over a fine bloodless 
face with eyes like steel, jaws like iron, accounting 
perhaps for the magnetic charm of his smile. His 
English was that spoken by gentlefolk, which has 
the clearness of water, the sparkle of champagne. 
His accent? How puzzling that is in a stranger's 
voice 1 Except when we play Shakespearean 
Drama, we all speak with an accent, American say, 
or British. This gentleman lacked the primitive 
manliness which stamps the men of the Dominions. 
Afterwards Mr. Eure confessed himself a native of 
New England. 

He presented his assistant, led me to the sleigh, 
showed Billy where to stow the luggage, tucked 
me into some warm furs, congratulated me on 
escaping the local hotels, then bidding my man and 
his own to jump in, took the reins and asked which 
way we were going. I served as pilot along a trail 



THE IMPATIENT CHAPTER 229 

of poignant meiiiories. Once as we climbed the 
great steeps northward, I caught the scent of the 
bull pines, and would have cried but for the cold 
which made it much wiser to sniff. Tears freeze. 

We slept that night at Hat Creek station where 
Tearful George proved a most kindly host. He 
told me of a loaded sleigh which had passed last 
week on the way to Jesse's ranche. The teamster 
was Iron Dale. So far I had wondered whether 
my namf was changing letter by letter from 
Madame Scotson into Mrs. Grumble, but now the 
scent of the pines brought ease of mind, and in 
the great calm of the Wilderness one is ashamed 
to fret. 

Our next march brought us rather late for the 
midday dinner to Fifty Nine Mile House, which 
marks the summit of the long climb from Ashcroft 
to the edge of the Black Pines. The light was 
beginning to wane when we set out into that land 
of silent menace, where black forest cast blue 
shadows over deathly snow, and the cold was that 
of the Space between the Stars. Once we had to 
pull up to adjust a trace, and in that instant the 
trees seemed suddenly to have paused from dreadful 
motion. A snow-covered boulder faced us as 
though in challenge : " You think I moved? " A 
deadfall log seemed to ask us: " Did I moan? " 
A hollow tree became rigid as though it had been 
swaying, a burned pine leaned as though stopped in 
the act of falling upon our sleigh. All of them, 
alert and full of menace, watched us. The trees 
were dead, the water was all frozen, the snow was 



230 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



but a shroud which seemed to lift and creep. What 
were we doing here in the Land of the Dead ? The 
shadows closed upon us, a mist rose flooding over 
us, and, far off, the cold split a tree asunder with 
loud report as of some minute gun. We drove 
on, freezing, and right glad I was to be welcomed 
with all the ruddy warmth and kindly cheer of 
Eighty Mile House. There we had tea, and 
secured fresh horses for the last stage of our 
journey. I learned also that the driver entrusted 
by the Hudson's Bay Company with provisions 
for Hundred Mile House, had gone off with the 
team, leaving his sleigh still loaded in Captain 
Taylor's yard. 

The malign Bush seemed cowed by sheer 
immensity of glittering starlight as we drove on. 
Only or, :e I ventured to speak, asking Mr. Eure 
to look out for Ninety Nine Mile House. Horses 
accustomed to bait there would try to stop. I did 
not want to stop. 

He nodded assent, and, crouched down beside 
him, I waited until a brave red warmth shone out 
across the snow from all the lighted windows of 
Spite House. Mr. Eure lashed his horses and in 
a moment more we had passed into the night again. 
Presently we crossed the little shaky bridge over 
Hundred Mile Creek, then swung to the left into 
Captain Taylor's yard. I could see on the right 
the loom of the old barns, on the left the low house, 
and at the end one window dimly lighted, which 
told me my friend still lived. While Tom, the 
assistant, stabled the team, Mr. Eure and Billy got 



THE IMPATIENT CHAPTER 



231 



snow shovels from the barn, and hewed out a way 
to the deep-drifted door at the near end of the 
building. Presently the Chinese servant let us in, 
and I made my way through the bar room and 
dining hall to that far door on the right. How 
changed was the grand old Hundred since the days, 
only five years ago, of pompous assizes, banquets, 
dances, when these rooms overflowed with light, 
warmth, and comfort, now dark, in Arctic cold, in 
haunted silence ! I crept into the Captain's room 
where, in an armchair beside the stove, the old 
man lay. I knelt beside him, taking his dread- 
fully swollen hand. 

" Dear Wife," he muttered, whose wife mjst 
have been dead full forty years. " This hulk is 
going to be laid up soon, in Rotten Row. Can't 
all of us founder in action." 

I ran away. But then there was much to be 
done, fires, lights, supper, beds, and the unloading 
of the sleigh full of hospital comforts which would 
set my patient a great deal more at ease. 

When I left him, very late at night, supposing 
all lucky people to be in bed, I found Mr. Eure 
making himself some tea. Gladly I joined him 
beside the kitchen stove, ever so pleased with 
its warmth and the tea, for I was weary, past 
all hope of any sleep. Besides the poor man was 
just dying with curiosity as io our journey and 
his engagement as my engineer. So for that one 
and only time I told the story of Jesse's fate, and 
mine. The creature would stop me at times to 
check the pronunciation of words, or note the 



232 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



English manner of placing accents, his own odd 
way of showing sympathy. 

And then I tried to explain the scheme which 
needed his services as an engineer. 

" Let's see," he checked my rambling statement. 
" Try if I've got all that correct. This Cariboo 
Waggon road runs from Ashcroft to Quesnelle, 
due north, except at one point where the Govern- 
ment wouldn't pay for a bridge across the Hundred 
Mile Gorge. 

" So at the 95 mile post the road swings eastward 
five miles, passing Spite House to the head of the 
gorge, where it crosses Hundred Mile Creek, right 
here. 

" From here the road turns west again on the 
north side of the gorge, and after one mile on the 
level, drops down the Hundred Mile Hill, which 
is three miles high, and a terror to navigation. 

"At the bottom the road turns north again for 
Quesnelle, at a cabin called the 104, where old 
Pete Mathson lives, a hairy little person, like a 
Skye terrier with a faithful heart. 

"And said Mathson has blazed a cut-off, crossing 
the foot of the gorge, then climbing by an easy 
grade to the 95 mile post. The said cut-off is five 
miles long. Made into a waggon road it would 
give a better gradient for traffic, save four miles, 
employ local labour at a season when money is 
scant, and be an all round blessing to mankind. 
At the foot of the gorge we'd locate the new 
Hundred Mile House. 
" Incidentally Spite House would be side- 



iHE IMPATIENT CHAPTER 



833 



tracked, left in the hungry woods, four mites from 
nowhere." 

" Tell me," I urged, " what you think." 

" My dear Madame, when I've made a survey 
you shall have dates and figures for a temporary 
snow road, a p)ermanent way, and a house." 

" It can be done? " 

" Why certainly." 

" You approve? " 

" Yes. I see dollars in this, for me." 

" You thirk I'm foolish ! " 

" It will be an excellent road." 

" But the result? " 

" Please don't blame the engineer." 

" Oh tell me what you think, as a man." 

" Well, let's pretend I'm Polly." 

I laughed. 

" Being Polly, and from my Polly point of view, 
frankly I'm pleased. Here are hundreds of new 
customers, with Madame Scotson's money to spend 
at Spite House." 

" My men will sign an agreement. The man 
who visits Spite House forfeits a bonus for good 
service, loses all outstanding pay, and leaves my 
camp that day." 

" Is that so? Of course the coaches change 
horses at Spite House." 

" When I've bought out the Stage Company, 
they'll change horses at the New Hundred." 

"And only stop at Spite House for the mails? " 

" I shall appeal to the Postmaster General." 



334 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

" On the ground that you're running a rival 
house? Captain Taylor you say did that." 

" My house shall charge nothing. It shall be 
free, and the visitors my guests." 

" Then in my litt.e Polly way I'm afraid I'll 
have to move Spite House down to the new road." 

" On to my land? " 

" Your cruelty reduces me to tears. I am a 
martyr. I appeal to the chivalrous public to 
boycott that new road." 

" When I've brought money into the country? 
Oh you don't know this hungry neighbourhood ! " 

" Mercy ! My client's done for. I'm Madame 
Scotson's managing engineer. May I ask a plain 
question ? " 

" Certainly." 

" Is there water power in this gulch? " 

" There's a lovely waterfall." 

" I'll look around to-morrow." 

And then came Mr. Eure's confession. The 
assistant, not himself, was a surveyor. " I'm only 
a paper maker. I'm looking for cheap timber, 
good snow for haulage, water power to mill the 
lumber into paper pulp, and a . road to market. 
I've beon travelling some months now in search of 
that combination, and if your lovely waterfall will 
give me five thousand horse power, I shall have 
to build your cut-off road for myself, also the 
house. Then there'll be war against these black 
pines, your enemies. As to Spite House, it seems 
hardly the kind of thing for you to deal with. 
Perhaps you'll leave that to me." 



CHAPTER III. 



RESCUE. 



Mother in Heaven, 

Please thank God for me and say I'm grateful. 
Tell the neighbour angels how little mothers having 
sons on earth are badly missed and grudged by 
hungering mortals. Prayers sent to Heaven are 
answered, but not letters. I reckon no one here 
could ever write a letter happy enough, so light 
with joy that it could fly up there. And when I'd 
a notion to write, in these last years, I knew a 
heavy letter migh* reach the wrong address, to 
make more sorrow in the Other Place. live passed 
the hours writing, times when I had paper, but the 
stuff I wrote would make no creature happy, except 
perhaps critics who enjoy to scofl. What can't 
make happiness is v/orse than dirt. 

In the days when I thought this Jesse person 
was important, I used to read the Old Testament 
which is full human with pride and arrogance of 
man. But since I learned that this whole world is 
only a dream from which we shall awake, the New 
Testament has been my pasturage. Maybe three 
moons ago, when my ammunition had run out, 
and my neighbour animals had learned all the little 
secrets of my traps and snares, there was no food 

23S 



236 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



for the earthly part of me, and I wondered what 
God was going to do about it. Of course I couldn't 
question about His business, but seeing that likely 
He intended me to leave my little worries behind, 
1 made a good fire in the cabin, lay down in the 
bunk, arranged my body to be in decent order in 
case I left it, and took my Bible to pass away the 
time. 

I suppose I'd dropped off to sleep when some- 
thing rough began to happen, jolting me back 
into the world of fuss. A man in a buckskin shirt 
and a bad temper, stamping the snow off his 
mocassins, shaking me by the arm. He was my 
old friend Iron Dale, a man of the world— which 
smashed him. 

He seemed to be worried, and that of course v.'is 
natural to a man like Iron, lusty and eager, with 
an appetite for money— whereas poor Polly had 
done her best to cure him of his dollars. She is 
like a dutiful scapegoat eager to carry the burdens 
of all the people, but Iron doesn't understand and 
would carry rocks to the cliffs rather than have no 
load in a world of workers. Don't you remember 
Mother, the lesson of the Labrador, " The Lord 
gave, and the Lord taketh away : Blessed be the 
Name of the Lord." He takes away the things 
which keep us from Him. 

But here was Iron jumping about the cabin, busy 
as a chipmunk, with just the same hurried funny 
way of blaspheming. He had to make fire, cook 
soup, and haul things in from outdoors while he 
told me news about a team, a sleigh, a load of 



RESCUE 



»37 



stores for me, and his own services paid up six 
months ahead if I'd let him work on the ranche. 
He was like a little boy which plays at keeping 
store, where you've got to pretend to trade, with 
nary a smile, lest he should see and the whole 
game turn unreal. So I sat up for soup, which 
made my loose skin fit me again as I filled. I'd 
answer to all he said, grave as a Constable, playing 
the game of Life just as I used to. All of us have 
to play, at trade, at war, at love, at kingdoms and 
republics. We play at Empire without a grin, we 
play with serious faces at learning and the Arts. 
Yet all the business of men is like a game of 
children playing on the sands, as though there 
were no tide to sweep away our footprints. 

I played with Iron at being alive, and he got so 
damned indulgent I could have smacked his face. 

When he'd tended the horses Iron set up a clock 
upon the shelf, so I might hear the ticking as Time 
passed. He carried in armloads from the sleigh, 
he opened cases, 1 e spilled out sacks. He showed 
me maple syrup, try-your-strength cigars, a dandy 
rifle with plenty ammunition, books, clothes, 
candy, a piano which plays itself, then garden 
seeds, and all sorts of things which you'd have 
honed for in the long ago. The place was like a 
barter store, piled to the beams with riches wasted 
on me, who hadn't a neighbour left. Why even 
iron who used to think for no one but himself, had 
a kitten for me, warm in his pocket, and forgotten 
until a case of hardware squashed out its best 
Sunday scream. Who'd ever think too that so 



838 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



in I 



small a bundle of fur and claws should have a purr 
to fill my whole bed with joy. Surely I loved this 
world I'd so nearly quit, when after supper Iron 
loosed a gramophone. The Hudson's Bay man 
had shown him a special ' record ' from England, 
the Angel Song in Chopin's " Marche Funibre." 
We had that first, the very song she used to sing 
in this cabin, times when I reckoned it a shameful 
thing for any man to cry. 

It was Kate's voice. 

Oh tell God, mother, that I'm very grateful. I 
heard her voice filling this place which used to be 
her home. Though my wife and I are parted for 
all our years — love finds a way. 

A week or more had passed, and I'd my strength 
again. The river had frozen so that we could cross 
to the hunting grounds beyond, and when we 
came back our camp was full of meat. 

I was once rich, before my wealth of memories 
went bad and turned to pain. I once had peace or 
thought so, till I found that there is none for men 
who keep on growing. But wealth of memories, 
and peace of mind, and humbleness of spirit are 
but emptiness, and life is a waste until it is filled 
with love. Iron's kindness to me, the charity 
which sent me Kate's voice, the love behind the 
gift which found me dying — these are the things 
which saved my >ul alive. My life must be filled 
with love, my hours must be deeds of help for 
others, there must be no more self in me at all. 
It would be better to be damned and doing good in 



RESCUE 



"39 



Hell, than to squander love where it runs waste 
in Heaven. 

The truth is scarce, being winnowed by many 
preachers, and my grains when I try to eat them, 
are mostly husks. Iron calls me a coward. But 
Polly only weighs ninety-eight pounds, and I two 
hundred, so that I couldn't have managed to feel 
brave fighting her. Then Iron claims it's not the 
litth woman I ought to fight, but the big evil she 
done in bringing all our settlers to death or ruin. 
A woman's whim is light as thistledown, but 
thistles choke the pasture unless you fight them, 
and Christ himself fought to the death against 
the evils which grew rank around him. I doubt 
I've been a cowardly sort of Christian. 

Wa'. I right to live alone? For if this world's 
a school, I've been a truant. Can I live for self, 
while all things done for self are only wasted? 
My place was in the world working for others. 

I'd got so far in thinking my morals needed 
repairs, when a new thing happened, pointing out 
the way. O'Flynn rode over burning the trail 
from the Hundred. My wife is there I .Mthough 
we may not meet, her love has brought her from 
England to be near me. 

O'Flynn has seen my son, he has spoken with 
Father Jared, he has come with Kate from England, 
and he left her nursing at Bolt Taylor's bedside. 
She is sending Surly Brown from Soda Creek with 
a cable, to build a new scow, and start the ferry 
again. Ransome Pollock's to manage the Trevor 
ranche. Iron's to re-open the Skyline while Phe 



2^ JESSE OF CARIBOO 

makes his peace with the owners— O'Flynn wantt 
to run the packing. She is finding a doctor to take 
McGee's practice. Tearful George is to buy an 
imported stallion, and drift him with a bunch of 
East Oregon mares to stock my empty pastures. 
The dead settlement is to live again as though there 
had been no Polly to rob, ruin, and murder among 
our pioneers. And then my wife will send young 
Englishmen to school with me for training. 

Stroke by stroke this Mr. O'Flynn comes lashing 
home the news into my hide, as though I were 
being flogged. He says he hated me always, but 
never despised me before as he does now. My 
wife and I should change clothes, only I'd be too 
useless for a woman. Iron says the same, and in 
a most unchristian way I thrashed the pair, knock- 
ing their heads together, for putting me too much 
in the wrong while I wanted my breakfast. They 
think there's something in my argument. 

The news is better for being discussed, and best 
of all I reckon this man Eure who is to sidetrack 
Polly, building a town at the foot of the Hundred 
Mile Falls. The pines on the high land, too small 
a trash for lumber, are good enough for pulp to 
feed a mill, while paper is the plate from which we 
eat our knowledge. I see the black bush turning 
into books, thi^ lands in oats or pasture till they're 
warmed for wheat, and when we come to the rocks 
there's marble to build colleges for our sons, gold 
to endow them. The land too poor for any other 
crop, is best for raising men. 

Its only because I'm happy I write nonsense. 



RESCUE 



341 



feeling this night as though I were being cured of 
all my blindness. I have a sense that though I 
sit in darkness, my wife is with me, and if my eyes 
were opened, I should see her. Is it our weakness 
which gives such strength to Love? 



CHAPTER IV. 






AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE. 

Mk. Eure inspected the woods and water power, 
then departed for the coast, secretly to buy timber 
limits, avowedly to find me a nurse and doctor. 

Mr. Tom Faulkner, his engineer, surveyed, then 
let contracts for a temporary snow road, log build- 
ings at the Falls, and a telegraph line which would 
secure our business from being known at Polly's 
Post Office. 

Mr. Dale re-opened the Skyline Mines, pending 
my arrangement with the owners. 

Mr. Surly Brown placed a cable and built a scow 
in readiness to renew his ferry business. 

Mr. Tearful George placed loads of forage a 
day's march apart across the forest, then drifted 
livestock into Jesse's ranche. 

Father Jared sought out young gentlemen to be 
trained at Jesse's "School of Colonial Instruction." 

Mr. William O'Flynn became bartender, de- 
spatch rider, stable man, general adviser, and 
Commander-in-Chief at the Hundred. 

A bewildered Chinaman with a yellow smile, 
cooked, scrubbed, chattered pidgin English, and 
burned incense to Joss in the kitchen. 
9tt 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 243 

And I Kate, was busy nursing and keeping 
house, with never a moment to spare for the 
spectres which thronged our forest. After the 
snow road diverted traffic, my one visitor was Pete 
Mathson, who on Saturdays climbed the long hill 
for his rations. When my patient was well 
enough, he would talk with ' Bolt ' Taylor about 
old times in the gold mines, or on the high tech- 
nique of pack train harness, above the compre- 
hension of a woman. 

Until the nurse came I was with my patient 
always, and slept in the same close room. On 
her arrival — how I envied that pretty uniform- 
Nurse Panton pro' 2eded to set us all to rights. 
She was a colourless creature, supported by routine 
as by a corset, and Billy intormed me that she 
needed to be thoroughly shocked. He told her 
that the patient, being a sailor, wanted the nursing 
done ship-shape and Bristol fashion. Nurse and 
I were to have each four hours on and four off, 
with two dog or half watches, which would daily 
reverse the order, so giving us the middle watch 
by turns. Nurse was indignant at the very idea, 
and finding me on Billy's side, protested to the 
Captain. ".Capital! " said he, delighted at any 
chance of shaking up the long monotony of illness. 
" You'll strike the bells as we do at sea," he said, 
" two for each hour." 

Of course the first of the Nursing Ten Com- 
mandments is "Pretend to agree with the patient;" 
but then the naval officer, if he missed his bells, 
would awake with horrible deep sea oaths, and 



. 



244 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

' stop her grog,' so that Miss Panton got no tea 

except by complete obedience. 

Whether relieved at midnight or at ^a.m. 1 
would put on my furs for a little prowl outdoors. 
To leave the house when it was forty degrees below 
zero, felt like the plunge into an icy bath, but gave 
the same refreshment afterwards. And it was 
good to watch the ghostly dances of the Northern 
LiEhts fill the whole sky with music visible. 

Once setting out on such an excursion I traversed 
the dining hall, entered the dark bar room, and 
opened the inner door which gave upon the porch. 
But this time I. could not push the storm door 
open. Something resisted, something outs.de 
thrusting at the panels, something alive. I fell 
back against the bar, imagining bears, burglars, 
bogies, anything, while I listened, afraid tobreathe. 
It was then I heard a voice, a girlish voice outside 
in the Arctic cold, chanting in singsong recitation 
as though at school :— 

"Bruce, Bruce; Huron, Desoronto; Chatham, 
Cayuga; Guelph-not Guelph— oh what comes 
after Cayuga?" Then feeble hands battered 
against the door, " Teacher I Teacher ! " 

But when I opened the door, the girl stepped 

back afraid. 

" You're not the Teacher," she said, oh tell 
me before she comes. Sixty-six counties and the 
towns have all got mixed." 

" Come in and let me tell you." 

"I daren't 1 I daren't I You're not the Teacher. 
This is not the school. You'll take me back ! " 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 24S 

She turned, trying to run away, but her legs 
seemed wooden, and she slid about as though she 
were wearing clogs. 

" I won't," she screamed, " I won't go back I " 
Then she fell. 

" Dear child, you shan't go back." 

But still she shrank from me. " Oh leave me 
alone! " she pleaded. 

" Mayn't I give you some tea? " 

" You won't take me back to Spite House? " 

" Not to that dreadful place." 

" Do you keep girls too? " 

" There's only a nurse, and a poor dying man." 

"And you'll hear me the counties of Ontario? " 

" Why yes, dear." 

" I'll come then," but as she tried to get up, 
" it's cramp," she moaned. 

"Dear child, you're freezing." 

" I'm not cold, it's cramp." 

She must have fallen through the snow which 
covered our water hole, for she was literally encased 
in ice up to the breasts. 

Finding I had not strength to carry her, I 
shouted for the nurse, who roused Billy, and then 
the Chinaman. Together we carried her indoors, 
gave her brandy, and laid her dressed as she was, 
in Captain Taylor's bath. Then while Billy rode 
hard for a doctor, Nurse and I filled the bath with 
freezing water, which for eight hours we kept 
renewed with ice. Drawn gently from her body, 
the frost formed a film of ice upon the surface, 
but she assured me that she felt quite warm, without 



fr'll 



346 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



the slightest pain. To sustain her I gave liquid 
food at intervals, and quite clear in her mind, even 
cheerfully she trusted me with her story. 

She told me of a village among vineyards, over- 
looking Lake Ontario, just where a creek comes 
tumbling down from the Niagara heights. Her 
father, a retired minister, wasted his narrow means 
in trying to raise the proper grapes for sacramental 
wine. Mother was dead, and nine small children 
had to be fed and clothed, to appear with decency 
at church and school, so that they would not be 
ashamed among the neighbours. " You see, she 
added primly, " I'm the eldest, the only one grown 
up, so of course I couldn't be spared to stay at 
College." And there was little to earn m the 
village, much to do taking a mother's place. 

Ihen Uncle John found an advertisement in the 
paper. A governess was wanted for four children 
somewhere in British Columbia. The wages were 
so generous that there would be enough to spare 
for helping Father. It meant so much of proper 
food, and good warm clothing for the younger 
children. So references were exchanged with Mr. 
Brooke, who wrote most charming letters, and 
Uncle John lent money for the journey. My little 
school ma'am pursed her lips severely over that 
loan, which must be repaid by instalments. Then 
her eyes shone with tears, and her face quivered, 
all the scholastic manner quite gone, for she spoke 
of the sad parting with everybody she loved, then 
of the long nights, the lonely days of that endless 
journey across the continent. 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 247 

Mr. Brooke met Jenny at Ashcroft, and took her 
by sleigh nearly a hundred miles, getting more 
and more familiar and horrid until, in a state of 
wild fear of him, she ran for safety into a drunken 
riot at Spite House. The waitresses were rude, 
and cruel, Polly lay drunk on the floor. There 
were no children. 

Afterwards I learned from Mr. Eure that I was 
a prejudiced witness, without a shred of evidence, 
that no court would listen to hearsay, and that the 
dying girl's confession would not be allowed in 
court except it were made under oath before a 
magistrate. Poor Jenny would never have told 
any man what happened at Spite House ; she would 
not have given the last sane moments of her life 
to vengeance; and so there was no case against 
either Brooke or Polly in a crime which had earned 
them penal servitude. 

Vengeance? I think our prayers together did 
more good, and when the time came for Jenny's 
removal to a bed of lint soaked in carbolic oil, she 
was prepared to face the coming pain. 

" Shall I die? " she asked, and I could only kiss 
her. 

" Then," she said, " even if it isn't true, tell 
Poppa I died game." 

She was Canadian, and there is valour in that 
blood. 

Before she was moved. Dr. Saunderson of 
Clinton, had taken charge, and, since we lacked 
petroleum enough for a bath, approved what we 
had done. He used opiates, but the pain, after a 



248 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



frostbite is thawed, is that which follows burning. 
On the third day came exhaustion,^and release. 

I was obliged to give evidence at the inquest, 
and my profession has taught me quietness, 
restraint, simplicity. The Coroner might talk 
Law, but I was dealing with men, it was my 
business to make them cry. There was no case 
against Brooke, but from that time onwards visitors 
to Spite House were treated as lepers until they 
left the country. 

For the rest, I would not be present either at the 
funeral or at the public meeting, or see the Press 
man who came up from Ashcroft, or discuss the 
matter with any of my neighbours. 

The theme was one distasteful to any woman 
with claims to decency. These things are not 
discussed. And even if through misfortune my 
relationship with Jesse became a common scandal, 
at least I need not share the conversation. To 
make a scene, to discuss my affairs with strangers, 
to seek public sympathy, were things impossible. 
Yet I heard enough. The waitresses were gone 
from Spite House, the constable was dismissed 
from his position, the business of the Post Office 
and stage line were transferred to Mr. Eure's 
stopping place at the Falls. Brooke and Polly 
were left alone, with no power it seemed then for 
any further mischief. 

Until it actually happened, I never expected that 
Brooke would visit me, but perhaps from his point 
of view the event was piquant. His betrayal of 
Billy's father to the gallows, of Jesse and myself 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 249 

to Polly's vengeance, and of an innocent lady to 
ruin and death by cold, might have made even 
Brooke suspect he would not be welcomed. But 
then Billy was away, the gentleman had a revolver, 
and neither the Nurse, the Chinaman, nor myself 
were dangerous. Hearing a horse at the door, I 
went to the bar room, and dodged behind the bar 
or he would have shaken hands. 

While he was actually present it did not occur 
to me that there might be danger. I was conscious 
of aromas from stale clothes and cigars, liquor, 
perfumes, and hair oil; I noted the greasy pallor 
which comes of a life by lamplight; and while 
Brooke was Brooke he had to dress his part. As 
a professional gambler, he wore long hair, 
moustache, and imperial, broadcloth and black 
slouch hat, celluloid ' linen ' and sham diamonds. 
To these the climate added bright yellow mocassins, 
and a fur coat of the hairiest, the whole costume 
keyed up to Sunday best. Dirty and common of 
course, yet let me in justice own that Brooke was 
handsome, frank, and sympathetic as of old. Even 
the ravages of every vice had left him something 
of charm, his only asset in the place of manhood. 
No, I was not frightened, but as a daughter of 
Eve a httle curious to know what brought him, 
and not quite fool enough to run the risk of showing 
any temper. 

When I asked him to state his business, with a 
large gesture he claimed the visitor's drink. It is 
an old custom, which I broke. 
" You think I'm a villain ? " 



aso JESSE OF CARIBOO 

I made no comment. 

" I've come to thank you ma'am. If you a 
pressed that girl's case it might have been well— 

I told him that had 1 known the law, I should 
have done my best to get him penal servitude for 

life. _, , , 

" That's straight," he answered indulgently, 
•' you always were clear grit, and that's why I 
want— well ma'am," he lowered his eyes, "Im 
going to confess. You don't mind? " he added. 
My eyes betrayed my one desire, escape, but 
he stood in the doorway leading to the house. 

" Your presence," I said, " is distasteful. 
Please will you let me pass? " 
" Not till I've set things straight." 
There was no bell with which to summon help, 
and I should have been ashamed to make a scene. 
" Go on," I said. 

" I dunno how you feel mum about Life. I ve 
been disappointed, starting in with ideals, and 
they're gone. I'm as straight as the world will let 
me, without my going hungry." 

Let me here quote one of Jesse's letters to his 
Mother. " This Brooke and I grew our beef and 
matured our horns on the same strong pasture, 
but where a homely face kept me out of temptation, 
he had what you call beauty, and I'd call vanity. 
Instead of trying to be, he aimed to act. He'd play 
cowboy, or robber, or gambler, things he could 
never be, because he's not a man. He could wear 
the clothes, the manners, the talk, and pass himself 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 251 

off for real. The women who petted him, sank 
and were left in the lurch. The men who trusted 
him were shot or hanged. That made him lone- 
some, gave him the melancholy past, the romantic 
air, the charm — all stock in trade. Long hair costs 
nothing, he pays no dog tax, but Life is too rich 
for his blood, and in the end he'll die of it like 
Judas. Say Mother, wasn't there a Mrs. Judas 
Iscariot? She must have been a busy woman to 
judge by the size of the Iscariot family." 

" Yes," Brooke sighed, " I'm a disillusioned, 
disappointed man." 

I had a curious sense that this actor of life was 
trying to be real, and in the attempt he posed. 

" Not that I claim," he went on, " that Spite 
House is anyways holy. It's not. Of course a 
sporting and gambling joint meets a demand, a 
regrettable demand, a thing we both abhor and 
would like to be shut of. But since demand 
creates the supply, let's have it in high toned style, 
not run by thugs. That's what I say." 

His spacious benevolence seemed to confer 
partnership, yet to be shocked at my immoral 
tendencies. 

" However," he sighed, " it's over. It's done 
with, shoved aside. There was money in it, but 
small money, and we pass on. Old Taylor may 
have told you that as far back as November we 
decided, Mrs. Smith and me, to run the house as 
a first class resort for tourists. We bought the 
Star Park train from Taylor, and the old Cargador 
is making our new riggings." 



353 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

This was news indeed I 

" Of course pack trains as such are out of date 
as Noah's Ark, and we've all got to march with the 
procession. You'll see in this prospectus," he 
held out a paper, "well, I'll read it. Let's see- 
yes—' Forest Lodge, long under the able manage- 
ment of Mrs. Jesse Smith, with great experience 

in' no, it's further on.' Forest Lodge is 

the natural center for parties viewing the Wondrous 
Wilds.' That should grip them eh ? 'Experienced 
guides with pack and saddle animals from the 
famous Star Atajo,' we can't call them mules of 
course, 'will escort parties visiting the sceneries 
and hunting grounds of the Coast Range, the 
Cariboo, the Omenica, the Babine.and theCassiar.' 
That ought to splash I " 

Billy had warned me of bad characters settled on 
the lands towards Jesse's ranche. Were these 
Brooke's ' experienced guides ' ? 

" Naturally," Brooke folded his prospectus, 
" the sporting trade had to be closed right down 
before the tourist connection took a hold. Million- 
aire sportsmen out to spend their dollars, expect 
to find things just so. They want recherchi meals, 
and unique decorations, real champagne wine, and 
everything ' imported ' even when it's made on the 
spot. They don't make no horroar over losing a 
few thousands at cards, but they just ain't going 
to stand seeing Polly laying around drunk on the 
bar-room floor. I tell you when they comes I 
ain't going to have Polly around my place. That's 
straight. She'll get her marching orders P.D.Q." 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE 253 

So Polly was next for betrayal. 

" Yes," Brooke became very confidential. 
" What I require at Forest Lodge is a real Society 
Lady as hostess. Yes, that's what's the matter - 
a Lady. Now that's what I come about. Ever 
since I seen you Mrs., I mean Madame, I mean—" 

He became quite diffident, leaving the doorway, 
leaning over the counter. 

" Would you " he began, " would you be 

prepared ma'am to " 

My way was clear, and I ran. 

It often seemed to me that Jesse's life and mine 
were veiled in some strange glamour of a directed 
Fate. Little by little, in ever so slow degrees this 
tnist was lifting, and I began to feel that soon the 
air would clear, giving us back to blessed common- 
place. Through no act of mine but by Brooke's 
incompetence, the prosperous business of Spite 
House had been brought to ruin. Polly was 
drinking herself to death, and presently would find 
herself betrayed by that same callous treachery 
which had wrought such havoc in my dear man's 
life and mine. 

Billy had held these last few weeks that Polly's 
funds were gone, that she was penniless. He 
begged me to let him destroy the great signboard 
across the road at Spite House. Failure to renew 
that would indeed be conclusive proof of the 
woman's penury, but the meanness of such a test 
revolted me, for one does not strike a fallen 
adversary. 

Were there any funds to promote black pines 



354 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

mnd mosquitoes as an attraction to millionaires? 
Brooke in his folly had divulged that foolish 
scheme, sufficient to complete the ruin of a poor 
wretched woman, before he abandoned her interests 
to seek his own. Was it true ? I went straight to 
Captain Taylor. 

For a week past my refractory patient had 
insisted upon living entirely upon cheese, a 
seemingly fatal diet, which to confess the truth 
had done him a world of good. Save for the loss 
of his sight he v/as quite his dear old self and glad 
of a gossip. 

" Yes Kate,'* he chuckled, " the murder's out 
at last. You see I'm not exactly prosperous, and 
my retired pay is a drop in my bucket of debts. 
And then our good friend Polly invested all her 
wealth in buying up the mortgage on this ranche." 

" But why?" 

" For fun. For the pleasure of turning me out. 
She kindly granted me permission to sleep in that 
old barrel which used to belong to my fox, but 
then you see I really couldn't be under any obliga- 
tions to the lady." 

" Did you pay off the mortgage? " 

" I did. So Polly strums rag-time tunes on 
my piano, Brooke wears my early Victorian frock 
coat, they serve their beans and bacon with my 
family plate, the gentleman sports my crest, the 
lady has my dear mother's diamonds which are 
really paste. My dear, they're county society— 
you really must call and leave cards." 

" I've often wondered about the portraits." 



AT HUNDRED MILE HOUSE ass 

" They sUred at me so rudely that I burnt them. 
Ancestor* ought to remember they're dead, and 
they'd rather be burned too than be claimed as 
Polly's aunta." 

"And the Star Pack train ? " 

"A half interest my dear, a half interest, that's 
all." 

" So you're in partnership? " 

" Why no. Fact is old Pete has h ■ n v iridni^ 
thirty-five years, with his faithful ,:,, shinnj^ 
behind that hair — it's silver no'.. i,,\ Wr'I, ! 
couldn't leave him in the lurch. \r.d i ei>- s ii, 
Hudson's Bay to consider, with Foils ip north 
depending on us for supplies. And ! ,iii^)o , 
when I come to think of it, I'm rather prouf' of t.it 
outfit. So in my sentimtntal way I madt . deed 
by which Pete is managing owner with a half 
interest, while Polly is sleeping partner with no 
right to interfere." 

" You've told Pete? " 

"No. I suppose I've got to own up ? " 

" You don't want Pete to be cheated by his 
partners." 

" You're right. Just open my desk and look 
inside. It's the paper on top." 

I found and read the deed. 

''^ You've read it of course," I said. 

" It was read to me by the lawyer chap. Isn't 
it all right ? " 

" Oh yes," I managed to say, " it's all right- 
such funny legal jargon." 

I looked at the names of the witnesses, Cultus 



356 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

McTavish and Low Lived Joe, the worst characters 
in our district. The document read to the old bhnd 
man had been no doubt destroyed. The deed 
actually signed made Polly sole owner of the 
famous Pack train. My friend had been cheated. 



CHAPTER V. 
THE CARGADOR. 

It was sixty degrees below zero. The moonlight 
lay in silver on the pines, the Hundred and Four 
Mile cabin, deep buried among the drifts, glittered 
along the eaves with icicles, the smoke went up into 
the Hush of Death, and the light in the frosted 
window would glow till nearly dawn. 

Within, Pete sat upon his shiny bench, rolling 
waxed end upon his shiny knee, and tautened his 
double stitches through the night, scarcely feeling 
the need of sleep. His new apparejos, stacked as 
they were finished, had gradually crowded poor 
Mrs. Pete into her last stronghold, the corner 
between the wood box and the bunk. Fiercely she 
resented the filling of her only room with harness, 
of her bunk with scrap leather, which scratted 
her, she said. Wedged into her last corner, she 
would patch disgraceful old socks, while Pete at 
his sewing crooned " One More River," or some 
indecent ballad of the gold mines. 
_ "Mother," Pete would look up from his bench. 

You mind when I brung her here right to this 

Da'^idT""' *'"" ^^^^^' ^^""^' ^"'^ ^^^ ^^'•y 

" What makes you hover Pete? " 
« 2B7 



a58 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

'• D'ye mind Baby David? " 

" Didn't I nurse him? " said the old woman 
softly " he'd red hair like his stuck-up mother, 
blue eyes same as Jesse, and a birth mark on his 
off kidney. Now did you ax her about that birth 

mark? " 

" I told her." said Pete, " that a suspicious 
female, with a face like a grebe and an enquirin 
mind is wishful to inspeck Dave's k'dneys. 

Mother wagged her head. " I own I'd like to 
believe Kate Smith is back in this country, but 
you're such a continuous and endurin' liar." 

" That's so," said Pete. 

One day when the sun shone brightly into the 
cabin, Billy arrived with a letter from Captain 
Taylor. Pete would not give it to Mother, or read 
it aloud, or even tell the news. He danced an 
ungainly hornpipe, and Mother had to shake him. 

" Can a woman's tender care 
Cease toward the child She Bear? 
In the Old town 
To-night my ba-Bee I " 
" Now what on airth's the matter with yew? " 
Mother boiled over. 

" Yes she may forgetful Bee 
Yet will I— remember Me. 
" Finish them riggings by first May says he. 
" Says the old Obediah 
To the young Obediah 
Obediah. Obediah t 
Oh, be damned I 



THE CARGADOR 259 

" Says I'm partner and Boss of the Outfit, and 
running the whole shootin' match, and I'll get 
more wealth than 'II patch Hell a mile, and 
" Thar's none like Nancy Lee I trow 
Ow 1 Ow I 
" Oh Mother, Bolt's give me a half interest, and 
ain't this a happy little Home, my darlin' I " 

At that Mrs. Pete flung her skinny arms around 
his neck, and the two silly old things sobbed 
together. 

A week later when to save Pete a long tramp, 
Billy rode down with the rations, he found the old 
people concerned "about this yere partnership," 

" Mother allows this Brooke is trash," said Pete, 
wagging his snowy head, " and for all the interest 
he takes he's mostly corpse. Thar's shorely holes 
in my 'skito bar." 

Billy read the letter thoughtfully. 

" Brooke been to see the riggings? " he asked. 

" Once in December. He don't know nothin' 
either." 

" Wonder what he wants? " 

" Smells mean, eh? " 

"A mean smell, Pete." 

Billy had spent the week tracking down the two 
bad characters who had served as witnesses to a 
false agreement. Their confession was now in 
evidence against Brooke, in case he dared repu- 
diate Mathson's rights as partner, but there was 
no need to alarm the Cargador. So Billy changed 
the subject, demanding tea, and there was a fine 
gossip. 



a6o JESSE OF CARIBOO 

•' Mr. O'Flynn," asked Mother, " hev yew bin 
in love?" 

" Engaged," said Billy in triumph. 

" Dew tell ! " 

" Yes, to Madame Scotson's nurse over in 
England." 

" Does she patch your socks? " 

" Now Mother," Pete interrupted, " when you 
was courting me did you patch my socks? " 

" Wall, I " 

" Come to think," said the Cargador, " I didn't 
have them, being then in the Confederate Army. 
But Mother, you did sure scrat my face I " 

" Wall, that's no dream," said mother, bridling. 

Once after his Saturday's tramp up the great 
hill, Pete returned looking very old. " I axed 
Bolt," he explained, "about this yere partnership." 

" Well? " asked Mother sharply. " Well? " 

" Bolt says thar's pigs with pink bows to their 
tails, just stretchin' and stretchin' around his sty." 

The old woman turned her back, for Pete was 
crying. 

In April there came a rush of warmth out of the 
west, licking up all the snow, save only on that 
high plateau where the Hundred, and Spite House 
seemed to wait, and wait in the White Silence. 

The spring storms came, the rains changed to 
snow, the snow changed to rain, with hail storms, 
and thunder rolling over snow. The cheeky little 
buttercups peeped up through the tails of the 
snowdrift, and far away, below Jesse's ranche in 



THE CARGADOR 



361 



the Fraser Canyon, the Star Brand mules wor- 
si..pped their old bell mare among the marigolds. 
The ground was bare now about Pete's cabin, all 
sodden pine chips to the edge of the rain-drenched 
bush, and the willow buds were bursting. 

Pete sat under a roof of cedar shakes which he 
had built to shelter the new ' riggings.' Around 
him in a horse shoe stood fifty complete apparejos, 
each with coiled lash and sling rope underneath, 
breeching and crupper, sovran helmo and cinchas, 
sweat pad, blanket, and corona, while the head- 
ropes strapped the mantas over all. He was 
rivetting the last of sixty hackamores, as he 
dreamed of the great North Trail, of open meadows 
by the Hagwilgaet, of the Heaven-piercing spire 
of Tsegeordinlth at the Forks of Skeena. 

Mother," he said, " I'm no slouch of a 
Cargador. Them red gin cases is still to rig for 
kitchen boxes, and it's all complete. The mules 
IS fattening good I hear, and the men's the same 
as last summer, all worth their feed too." 

But Mother, grim and fierce in the throes of her 
spring cleaning, had not come to admire. "Pete," 
she shrilled, " two more buckets of water, and yew 
jest git a move on. And how long hev yew bin 
promisin' to whittle me them clothes pins? Neou 
jest yew hustle Pete, or I'll get right ugly." 

Pete only cut from the plug into his palm, and 
rolled the tobacco small for his corncob pipe. His 
wmter servitude was ended, and he was master, the 
Cargador before whom all men bow in the dread 
north lands. Mother went off content to carry her 



j6a 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



own water, and Pete, with something of a flourish, 
lit his pipe. 

" Mother I " Pete let out a sharp call, and 
forgetting her business, Mother canse quite humbly, 
as though to heel. " Yes Pete? " 

He pointed with his pipe at a distant horseman 
rounding the flank of the hill. 

" Brooke? " she whispered, both gnarled rheu- 
matic hands rlutched at her heart. 

" I reckon," skuI Pete cheerfully. " Thinks 
he's a circus procession. That sorrel's clattering 
a loose near hind shoe, and her mouth just bleeding 
as he saws with that spade bitt. He's a sure 
Polecat. Trots down hill too, and suffers in his 
tail. Incompetent, Mother. Look at his feet ! 
He's bad as a stale salmon, rotten to the bones. 
Been drinking too." 

Brooke drew up and dismounted, leaving his 
rein on the horse's neck, instead of dropping it to 
the ground. When Brooke moved to sit on an 
apparejo, Pete ordered him to one of the kitchen 
boxes. "Not Bolt hisself may sit on my riggings," 
said the old grey Cargador. 

" I thought," said Brooke quite kindly, " that 
this harness was mine." 

"A half interest," said Mother, " sure-ly." 

" I fear," said Brooke, " you sort of misunder- 
stood. Old Taylor did say something about your 
usefulness as a working partner, and of course if 
we hadn't cancelled that preposterous contract with 
the Hudson's Bay Company, there's no doubt 
your knowledge of the country up north nould 



THE CARGADOR 



263 



have been worth paying for. It was, as you say, 
damned awkward about his being blind as a bat, 
in fact I was put to quite a lot of trouble getting 
the agreement witnessed. However," he produced 
a document which Mother snatched, " it's all there 
in black and white, and there's the old fool's 
signature — holds good in any court of law— proves 
that I've bought and paid for the whole atajo. 
You needn't claim I haven't a clear title — so you 
needn't stare at me as if I'd forged the signature. 
It's straight goods I tell you." 

Mother reeled backwards, while she grabbed 
Pete's shoulders so that the agreement fluttered to 
Brooke's feet. She steadied herself, then with a 
husky croak, " You made Bolt sign that,— hVtnd, 
dying, so he dunno what's on the paper." 

"Can you prove that? " asked Brooke indul- 
gently, as though he spoke to children. " If you 
say things like that, it's criminal libel, and you're 
both liable to the Skookum house. However," he 
shrugged his shoulders, and put the agreement 
away, " I don't want to be hard on you Pete." 

" Mister Mathson," Mother hissed at him. 

Pete with a whispered word to Mother, rose from 
his bench, and without appearing to see Mr. 
Brooke, walked past him across the sunlit yard, 
and on slowly up the great lifting curve of the 
road to Hundred Mile House. 

The sun was setting behind him when Pete 
rested at last upon the snowclad summit, and dusk 
lay in lakes of shadow far below him. At the 
Hundred he found the lamps alight, and as usual 



a64 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



Billy offered him a drinit. " I ain't drinking," 
said Pete huskily, as he lurched past the bar into 
the dining hall, and on to the little room on the 
right vhere Capuin Taylor lay. 

" Bolt I " he whispered. 

"That you Pete? Sit down," said the Boss 
cheerily. "How's the claim, Pete ? Getting coase 
gold, eh?" 

" Gold? Say Bolt, what's the matter, old 
fellow?" 

" Matter? V. b nothing Pete," the blind eyes 
shone keenly, " f course I'm not nearly to bedrock 
yet, and as to what I owe you've jolly well got to 
wait. How's old Calamity? I got Lost Creek 
Jim to work at last." 

Was the Boss dreaming of old times on Light- 
ning Creek? 

" Watty's in with the mail," said Bolt. 

Watty had been dead these thirty years. 

Then Pete sat down oh the bedside, and the two 
miners prattled about the new flume, and the price 
of flour in a camp now overgrown with jungle. 

A word to Billy would have been enough to get 
the apparejos to a place of safety, pending the 
settlement of Pete's just claim as partner. But 
the Cargador knew well that Death had come to 
take the one man he loved. This was no time for 
sordid business disturbing Bolt Taylor's peace. 
It was better to go quietly. 

• *•••* 

The sky was full of stars as Pete went homeward. 
The stars were big and round; the forest in an 



THE CARGADOR 



a65 



ecstacy kept vigil all alert, all silent, and the little 
streaRM of the thaw were saying their prayers 
before the frost sleep of the later hours. The man 
was at peace. It is not so very much to be 
Cargador, but it is a very big thing indeed to be 
unselfish. The trees kept vigil, the little streams 
crooned sleepy prayers, the stars in glory humbly 
served as lamps, and the man made no cry in his 
pain. Far down in the valley he saw a red flame 



Mother saw Brooke ride off to inspect his Star 
mules in their paiture far away down the Fraser 
Canyon. She blacked the stove with malice, she 
shook the bedding in enmity, set the furniture to 
rights as though it were being punished, then sat 
on the damp floor brooding, while twilight deepened 
over a world of treachery. Brooke was a thief, the 
lying Boss had used Pete and thrown him away 
wrung dry. And Pete was an old fool who would 
forgive. 

She had dreaded the lonely summer when she 
was left with only squirrels for company. Now 
Pete would be ' settin ' around, ruined, and out 
of work, the man who had been used and thrown 
aside, the laughing stock of the teamsters who saw 
his pride brought low. 

Cold and hot by turns, Mother made herself tidy 
against Pete's return, got the supper ready, and sat 
watching on the doorstep. She smoked his spare 
corncob pipe devising vengeance, while the night 
closed over her head. 



366 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

The frontier breeds fierce women, with narrow 
venomous enmities towards the foes of the house. 
Even if Pete suffered, Brooke should not prosper, 
or the Boss who had failed her man. Mother 
dragged two five gallon cans of petroleum from the 
lean-to, and staggering under their weight, poured 
the oil over all Brooke's harness. Breathing 
heavily with her labour, she carried loads of 
swamp hay, and cordwood, until the apfartjos 
were but part of a bonfire. Then with a brand 
from the stove she set the hay alight. There 
should be no public shame to break Pete's heart, 
there should be no pack train unless he were 
Cargador. 

Pete stood beside the ashes, searching Mother's 
face with his slow brooding eyes. Her burning 
rage was gone, and she was afraid, for now she 
thought too late of all his loving pride in the work, 
the greatness of the thing which his knowledge and 
skill had made. That she had burned. Under- 
standing how love had made this blunder, Pete 
said no word. He only knew that Bolt had paid 
him seven hundred dollars in cash and kind, which 
must be returned. In silence he turned away, and 
once more faced the terrible hill which led to the 
Hundred Mile House. 

• •*••• 

The spring was in my blocd, and I could not 
sleep. Can any creature sleep when the spring's 
sweet restless air calls to all Nature? The bears 



THE CARGADOR 



a67 



were about again after their winter sleep, busy with 
last year's berries. The deer were feasting on new 
grass down in the lowlands, the wolverines and 
cougar were sneaking homeward after the night's 
hunting. Even the little birds were coming back 
to the north, for now and again as I strolled along 
the Road I would hear a sleepy twitter. " Isn't it 
dawn yet?" " Not yet, have another nap." So 
I came to the brow of the great hill whence I should 
see the dawn. 

Down in the lower country, on every pool the 
water fowl lay abed, each, from the biggest goose 
to the littlest teal, with its head tucked under cover 
of a wing, and one quaint eye cocked up to catch 
the glint of dawn. A wan light was spreading in 
the north eastern sky, and presently the snowy 
brow of the hill revealed its wrinkled front, its 
frozen runnels. The sentinels of the wildfowl saw 
that first faint gleam of coming day, called the 
reveille along from pool to pool, roused thunder of 
innumerable wings, marshalled their echelons in 
soaring hosts, and broke away in the northward 
flight of spring. Far in the east a lone moose 
trumpeted. 

I was turning back refreshed towards my duty, 
when I heard something moan. The sound came 
from underneath a pine tree, the one at the very 
top of the iong climb which Pete had blazed with 
his inscription " Got thar." With my heart in my 
mouth I went to find out what was the matter, and 
so discovered the old Cargador crouched down 
against the trunk. 



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368 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



" Pete," I asked in a very shaky voice, " what 
on earth's the matter? " 

" Dying mum." 

" But it's too damp here. Why you'll catch 
your death of cold." 

' 'That would never do. Say mum, how's Bolt ?" 

" Oh ever so much better." 

" Can't do it," said Pete, " if I died first he'd 
have the joke on me." 

" Wouldn't you like a hot rum? " 

Pete staggered to his feet. " I'd go for that," 
he sighed, " just like one man." 

So he took my arm, and I helped him along the 
road. 

" She burned them riggings," he said. 

"Mother?" 

" Yes. Brooke came inspecting them riggings, 
so Mother burned 'em." 

" Won't that be rather awkward? " 

" Some. You see mum. Bolt paid me four 
hundred and five dollars cash, so I come to return 
him the money." 

I didn't quite understand. " You see Pete," I 
suggested, " you and Brooke are the owners. 
Don't you owe half to yourself, and half to 
Brooke? 

" Well if that's so I'll pay myself, and owe the 
rest to Brooke. But then he claims the whole Star 
Ataho." 

"In that case you owe the whole of the money 
to Brooke." 

" I don't mind owing Brooke," Pete felt so much 



THE CARGADOR 



269 



better that he was able to walk without help. 
"Brooke's gone on to inspect mules. I wonder 
how he'll get on with them mules? " 

As it happened Jesse was an actual witness to 
Mr. Brooke's inspection of the Star mules at their 
pasture below his ranche. Here is his narrative : 

Mules are the most religious of all animals. 
They believe in the bell mare, who creates grass, 
water, mud holes, and mosquitoes, and leads them 
in the paths of virtue where they don't get any fun. 
And when they worship her too much she kicks 
them in the stomach. 

The trouble for these f)Oor mules was that they 
followed a false goddess. Their bell mare Prue 
ought to have been old enough to know better, 
but at the age of twenty-three with grey hair and 
bald withers, she was still female. 

She and her mules had been grazing maybe half 
a mile when my new stallion, young Jehoshaphat, 
happened along with his harem of twenty-five 
mares, smelling down wind for a drink. The 
mares looked so smug and grass fat they could 
scarcely waddle, but Jehoshaphat was full of sinful 
pride, waltzing high steps at the sight of Prue. 

You should have seen Prue playing up innocent 
modesty in front of Jehoshaphat, pretending she 
wasn't there, making believe he was too sudden, 
didn't approve of the gentlemen, flattering his 
vanity with all sorts of airs and graces. He up 
with his tail and showed off, prancing around 
pleased as Punch. Prue paraded herself along in 
front of the harem to spite the married mares, and 






270 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

all her mules came worshipping along in pursuit. 
Those mares gave the mules the biggest kicking 
you ever saw in your life. 

There was me lying on Face Rock like a little 
boy at a circus, and there was the performance 
proceeding so joyful that I never saw Brooke until 
he rode down right into the middle of the fun. 
Jehoshaphat got mad and went for Brooke, chasing 
him around the pasture. Prue chafed Jehoshaphat, 
the mules chased Prue, the harem mares bit and 
kicked at everybody, Brooke galloped delirious in 
all directions, and I laughed until I could hardly 
liold down the rocks. 

Of course if Brooke hadn't been a mere mistake 
on earth, he would have herded gently to the 
nearest corrall, and cut the two outfits apart. But 
Brooke proceeded to lose his temper, pulled his 
gun, jumped his wretched sorrel behind a tree, and 
let drive. He missed the stallion. He shot Prue 
through the heart. 

There was nothing after that to keep the sixty 
Star mules together. Some went up the canyon, 
some down, a few even swam the Fraser, but the 
heft of them climbed the big cliffs and vanished 
into the Forest. 

I reckon Pete and his arrieros could collect those 
mules and break them to loving a new madrina. 
But with Brooke as Cargador, the great Star Pack 
Train's numbered with the past, and Mathson's 
partnership is scarce worth arguing. 

I was sorry to see the fine mules lost, and in my 
grief I kicked Brooke about one-third of a mile on 
his way home afoot. 



CHAPTER VI. 



THE BLACK NIGHT. 

" I BOULTON Wemyss Taylor, Commander R.N. 
retired, being of sound mind in a dying body, do 
hereby make ray last will and ttistament 

"And do appoint the lady xnown as Madame 
Scotson my sole executress anr' ustee of all 
property which I may die posi.esse- of 

" To pay my just debts, and to administer the 
remainder on behalf c' grai.dson James Taylor 

" Until at his comirnj ; age he shall receive the 
whole estate if there is any 

" Save only that I bequeath to Madame Scotson 
my sword and the Victoria Cross 

"And with regard to burial it is my will that no 
money whatever shall be spent, but that my body, 
wrapped in the Flag by right of Her Majesty's 
Commission, shall be consigned to the earth by 
my neighbours; that no friend of mine shall be 
allowed to stand uncovered catching cold, or to 
wear unseemly black clothing at the Service of the 
Resurrection, or to toll bells which should be pealed 
when the soul passes to God, or to make pretence 
or parade of grief for one who is glad to go." 

The months of nursing were ended. No longer 
should Nurse Panton and I be afraid when our 
«ri 



a7a JESSE OF CARIBOO 

patient was good, or rejoice when fractious whims 
and difficult absurdities marlced those rallies in 
which he fought off Death. At the last, after many 
hours of silence, he asked me in a boyish voice if 
he might go upstairs to see his uniform. In his 
dreams he was leaving school to enter the Royal 
Navy. 

Billy was away on an errand to the Falls, and 
it was Nurse Panton's watch below, when at ten 
in the evening I saw the change come very 
suddenly. The face of my dear friend, no longer 
old but timeless, reflected an unearthly majesty. 

For the next hour I was busy rendering the last 
services, in haste, for the lamp had a most peculiar 
smell. I took it away and lit candles, but it was 
not the lamp. Spreading the Union Jack upon 
the bed, I uolted from that room. For s time I 
sat in the dining '.tall, but could not stay there. 
Even in the bar room I still had to fight <M some- 
thing intangible, a sense of being watched, a 
presentiment of evil coming swiftly nearer. 

Closing the door which led into the house, I 
opened that which gave upon the yard, then placed 
a flickering candle on the counter, and my chair 
in front of it facing the darkness. All through the 
evening the drenching rain had fallen, with sob of 
dripiMng eaves. Now at the open doorway, loud, 
insistent, the great diapason of the rain was choral 
to those little sad voices which fluted, throbbed, and 
muttered near at hand, the lament of the water 
drops, the liquid note from every pool, the plaint 
of trickling streamlets. 



THE BLACK J<JIGHT 



'73 



It is the Prr^ence of the Dead which malces their 
rwting place jerene with quiet beauty, instinct 
with tender' i towards all living hearu. That 
Presence hkw entered the good log house, a home 
of human warmth, of kindly comfort, mt.de holy, 
consecrate, where people would hush their voices, 
constrained to reverence. 

And in the gracious monotone of the rain, 
compound of voices joined in requiem, I felt a 
soothing melancholy beauty, knowing well how 
peace not of this world had come into the home- 
stead. 

But outside that, beyond, in the dread Forest, a 
Threat, a menace filled the outer darkness. Fear 
clutched at my heart, a presentiment told me of evil, 
of instant danger. Then, as though the Horror 
in the Night moved other hearts as well as mine, 
the Chinese cook came groping his way through 
the dining hall, and humbl> scratched at the door. 
I let him in, and he crept to a stool in the near 
comer. I whispered to him : 

"Are you frightened, Sam? " 

" Too plenty much," he quavered, " mc flitened 
bad." 

He lit his pipe, and seemed like me to be eased 
by human company. Once only he moved, and 
in the queerest way came with his long yellow 
hngers to touch me, then timid, but reassured, 
crept back to his stool in the corner. 

Soon Nurse Panton joined us, her hair in cork- 
screws, looking very plain, peevish because she 
naa not been called at midnight. " What's the 

R 



874 JESSE OF CARIBOO 

matter? " she asked crossly, and for answer I 
pulled down the blinds. She shivered as she 
passed the open door to take a chair beyond it. 
She begged me to close the door, but the night was 
warm, and besides I dared not. Nurse and China- 
man each had a glass of port, and so did I, feeling 
much better afterwards. 

An hour passed, the Chinaman nodding like 
those ridiculous mandarin figures with loose heads, 
the nurse pallid against the gloom, staring until 
she got on my nerves. I always disliked that 
woman with her precise routine and large flat feet. 

Far ofiE I heard the thud of a gunshot, then three 
shots all together, and afterwards a fifth. The 
Evil in the night was coming nearer, and I said 
to myself, " If I were really frightened I should 
close that door. I'm half a coward." 

The hero himself had strung his Victoria Cross 
upon a riband which I wore about my neck. Could 
I wear the cross and set an example of cowardice 
to these poor creatures who crouched in the corners 
of the room? To show fear is a privilege of the 
underbred. But I did long for Jesse. 

Through the murmurs of the nearer rain, I fell 
a throb in the ground, then heard a sound grow, 
of a horse galloping. The swift soft rhythm, now 
loud, now faint again, then very near, echoec 
against the barns, thundered across the bridge 
splashed through the flooded yard, and ceasec 
abruptly. 

Billy had come home from the Falls, he was 
stabling his roan, he was crossing the yard if 



THE BLACK NIGHT 



a7S 



haste, his spurs clanked at the doorstep, and, 
dreading his news, a sudden panic seized me. I 
fled behind ihe bar. 

He entered, astream with rain, shading his eyes 
against the candle light ; then as I moved he called 
out, as though I were at a distance, begging me 
for brandy. His face was haggard, his hand as 
he drank was covered with dried blood, he slammed 
the glass on the counter so that it broke. 

" You heard the shots? " he said. 

"At Spite House? " I whispered. 

He nodded. 

" You were there? " I asked. 

" Half a mi!e beyond. When I got there it was 
all dark. Looked in through the end window, but 
the rain got down my neck, so I went round. The 
front door was standing open. I listened awhile. 
No need to get shot myself. Thought the place 
was derelict. Then I heard groans. 

" Struck a bunch of matches then, found the hall 
lamp, and got it alight. Wished I'd got a gun, 
but there wasn't nothing handy except the poker, 
so I took that and the light — just followed the 
groans. He was lying on the bar room floor." 

"Brooke?" 

" Yes. Shot through the throat, blood spurting 
down the side of his neck, making a big pool on 
the oilcloth. You know the thing you make with 
a stick and a scarf to twist up ? A tourniquet yes. 
Well it choked the swine, so I quit. He whispered 
something about my thumb hurting the wound, so 
I told him my father's neck hurt worse. 



376 



JESSE OP CARIBOO 



" Up to that I thought he was just acting 
playing pathetic to touch my feelings. Once h 
muttered your name, and then he was dead." 

" Brooke deadl " 

" Yes, he'd been shooting Polly too. I trace( 
her blood tracks all the way to the front door 
Hello, what's that? I thought I heard " 

I listened and there was only the sound of thi 
rain. 

" I suppose it's all right," said Billy, " we'< 
better close that door though." 

But before he could reach the door, Nurs( 
Panton called him away to her corner, where sh( 
spoke in a whisper so that I should not hear, send 
ing him perhaps for her cloak. Meanwhile I camt 
from behind the counter to my former seat befon 
the open doorway, where I sat staring into the 
darkness, unable to feel any more, but jusi 
benumbed. Across my weariness flickered th( 
mournful soliloquy of a poor barndoor fowl— 
" Yesterday an egg, to-morrow a feather duster I 
What's the good of anythin' why nothin'." 

Then I too heard a sound in the night, and 
because Billy and the nurse were muttering, I stood 
up with the candle light behind me, trying to see 
into the darkness. Billy said afterwards he had 
moved quickly, to shut the door, but I waved him 
back just as the shot rang out. 

The explosion blinded, deafened, seemed even to 
scorch me, while the mirror en the wall came 
crashing down. Stunned, dazzled, horrified, I felt 
a dull rage at this attempted murder. 



we'd 



THE BLACK NIGHT 277 

A second i., ' 'ver shot stirred my hair, and I'm 
afraid then tha^ lost my temper. I am not a fish 
fag that I should stoop to fighting a creature such 
as Polly, but I would have died rather than let her 
see one trace of fear. 

Billy rushed past the firing to reach the door 
and close it, but I ordered him to desist, then 
grasped the candle and held it out to show a better 
light. 

" Lower your sights I " I shouted into the dark. 

you fired too high I " 

A revolver crashed on the doorstep, and low 
down within three feet of the ground, I saw a 
dreadful face, convulsed wi^h ra^-e changing to 
fear. The woman was sinking to her knees, she 
buried her face in grimy, blood-smeared hands, 
and rocked to and fro in awful abandonment of 
grief. 

The danger was over now, the menace of Evil 
•n the night had vanished. I felt an immense 
relief, with hands wet, mouth parched, knees 
shaking, and great need of teais. I knew the 
strain had been beyond endurance, but now it was 
gone, although a velvet darkness closing round 
me, black night swing-ng round me, sickness-I 
must not f, -nt, when I had to fight, to keep com- 
mand, to set an example worthy of Jesse's wife. 
And there I was sitting in my chair, with drops of 
sweat forming and pouring on my forehead. 

..Av u''°^'"F °" *'"' ^°°' ^* ""y ^eet, had found 
and lighted the candle, and was holding the flame 
>n the palms of his hands till it steadied and blazed 



ars 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



up clear. " Buck up, missus," he was saying, 
" Cheer-oh. Don't let 'em Itnow you swooned 
mum. Grab on to that Cross, and malte it proud 
of you. That's right. Laugh mum I Laugh t 
Wish'd I'd half yer grit." 

I had come to myself and only Billy knew, who 
was loyal. As the candle blazed up I saw the 
Chinaman gibbering like some toothless mask of 
yellow indiarubber, but that nurse still kept up her 
silly screaming, until I ordered her to shut her 
mouth, which she did in sheer surprise. 

There lay Polly prone across the doorway on her 
face, racked with convulsive sobs, until, feeling I 
suppose the lashing rain on her back, she r le on 
hands and knees like some forlorn wild animal 
crawling to shelter, while behind her stretched a 
trail of wet and blood. I stared until in shame she 
sat up, still for all the world like an animal, lost to 
human feeling, and to a woman's dignity, until as 
she looked at me a wan shamed smile seemed to 
apologise. She sat back then against the log wall, 
limp, relaxed with weakness. 

" Nurse," I called, still with my gaze on Polly, 
" this woman is wounded. You are a nurse. Yod 
claimed to be a nurse." 

But Miss Panton indulged in hysterics, so 1 
turned to Billy, " Run into the house, get the hip 
bath, warm water, blankets, bandages." 

"Aye aye, mum," he touched his forelock, anc 
swinging the Chinaman to his feet. " Come alonf 
Sam," he grunted, and bustled him off on duty. 

Polly looked up, trusting me with her tawnj 



THE BLACK NIGHT 



ajg 



bloodshot eyes. Her voice was a dreary hoarseness 
demanding liquor. But with an open wound, to 
quicken the heart's action might be fatal, and Polly 
knew well it was no use pleading. Instead of that 
she pointed at the nurse, and said, " Send that 
away." 

I turned upon Nurse Panton who sat forsaken 
and ostentatious in her corner. " Go," I said, 
" and make beef tea." 

Sniff I 

I took her by the shoulders, and n* arched her out 
of the room, while Polly grinned approval. I 
came back and asked vhere she was wounded. 
She pointed to the left p, but I dared not remove 
any clothing which might have caught and seated 
the flow of blood. A sole ditt of alcohol, and 
months of neglect had made hsr ' ^ndition such 
that I shrank from touching her. 

" So you're Kate," she lay againat the bottom 
log of the wall, head hack, eyes nearly shut, 
looking along her nose at me, " Carrotty Kate." 

Her own tawny hair, draggled, and hung in 
snakes, was streaked with dirty grey. 

" Ye took Jesse," she said In weary scorn, " so 
I ruined him. Then this Brooke, he fell in love 
with yer, so I murdered him. Take everything, 
give nothin', that's you Carrots, give nothin'. 
That's you Carrots, give nothin' away not even a 
drink. And I gave everything. 

" So you're good, and I'm bad, you're high 
toned Society, and I'm a poor sporting lady. Oh 
I saw ye lift yer skirt away when yer passed me — 



aSo 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



calling yerself a Christian, when just one wbrH of 
Christian kindness would have saved the likes of 
me. 

" Ye needn't look over my head as if I wasn't 
there. I'm no fairy I ain't, no dream. I'm facts, 
and ye'd better face 'em. Sisters of Sorrow they 
calls us, who gave everj^thing, who gave ourselves. 

"And you good women pride yerselves in virtue, 
which ain't been tempted. Your virtue never been 
out doors in the rain gettin' wet. Your virtue 
never been starved and froze, or fooled and 
betrayed. Your colours ain't run, 'cause they've 
never been to the wash. You don't know good 
from evil, and you set thar judgin' me. 

" Tears running down yer face eh. You think 
you struck it rough when you came up agin me. 
Poor Carrots play in' Christian Martyr. I done 
you good if you know'd it. I'm all the schoolin' 
you got in real life. I waked ye from dreams to 
livin'. And you an' me is women, sisters in pain. 
I wish'd I'd auburn hair like your'n Kate, and a 
baby David to favour me with' hair an' eyes. And 
if I'd had a home ! But I didn't get a fair show 
ever, and every time I done good, I got it in the 
neck. Well, what's the odds. 

" It wasn't you brung me down Kate. Don't 
cry like that dear. It don't matter. Nothing 
matters. It was this Brooke which done for me, 
not you or Jesse. Brooke's only a thing I took in 
like a lost dog 'cause he was hungry. He said he'd 
manage my business, and he shorely did— invested 
all I'd got in a governess, and a bonfire at Math- 



THE BLACK NIGHT 



381 



son's, and a stampede of mules. Then he fooled 
a widow down to Ashcroft to start him running a 
tourist joint, and I was to be turned out. And he 
fell in love with you. 

" I guess that's all, excep' I got to tell you one 
thing. It was nursing the sick men kep' me 
straight all .hem years, kep' me from drink. You 
see I was meant for a nurse, trained for a nurse 
until— until— well, never you mind. Brooke 
stopped the nursing, and I drank. I'm only a 
nurse gone wrong. 

" Yes, your eyes is wonderin' why they don't 
come back with them bandages, and the bath. 
Don't worry about that, 'cause I'll be dead by 
daybreak. Jesse loved yer. Brooke loved yer, 
and somehow, well I'm kinder ranging that way 
myself. And if I go, you'll get back Jesse eh ? " 

Rallying what courage I had left, I knelt down, 
and kissed my sister, my poor sister. For a 
moment I let her stroke my carrotty hair which 
she liked. Then I ran to hurry my people to bring 
the beef tea, the hot water, the bandages. I found 
that wretched nurse detaining Billy and the China- 
man, with some pretence that I must not be 
disturbed. I was telling her to get out of my sight, 
to go to her bed, when a revolver shot rang through 
the echoing house. 

Polly had crawled to the doorstep, found her 
revolver. She who gave everything in life, had 
given me back to Jesse, and lay dead, her forehead 
shattered in with the revolver shot. For some 
seconds Billy and I hung back, watching from the 



aSa 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



doorway while a slow coil of smoke unfolded in the 
wan light of the dawn. The rain had ceased, and 
the east was all aglow with golden radiance. 

Billy knelt, and touched the poor broken fore, 
head, then looking up at me, " This time," he 
said, " it's real." 



EPILOGUE. 

Once more with Jesse in Cathedral Grove 1 The 
breath of evening stirred its tangled coral, the long 
needles clustered in globes were swaying as censors 
sway, with heavy incense. Beyond, the purple 
night swept up over glowing cliffs to where the 
upper forest, like an edge of flame, burned against 
deeps of sky. 

Come to the hilltop : blackbird choristers 
Peal their clear anthem to the kneeling gorse. 

Jesse lay dreaming while I sang to him. Crisp 
silvered hair, and the deeply graven lines of his 
dear face, gave him at rest a sweet sad dignity ; but 
presently he would look up, his big mouth 
humorous, hh eyes alight with fun, a man of 
commanding power matured in wisdom, in sym- 
pathy, and valour to lead his fellows. 

Through the East window of the Grove, I could 
see a little procession of my closest friends pass on 
their Sunday stroll. First came Pete, ill at ease in 
his Sabbath suit of blacks, and with him arm in 
arm was Mrs. Pete in silk, full skirted, prickly, 
and so very grim. Then Billy passed slowly by, 
his mother stumping beside him, bound to keep the 
pace. They had the new rabbit with them collared 
and chained like a bulldog, and were followed by 
sn 



a84 



JESSE OF CARIBOO 



David's nurse, dear Patsy, Billy's wife— plucking 
my young anemones— the wretch I 

Out on the perilous edge of Apex Rock I could 
see young Mr. Nisted, Father Jared's nephew, a 
pupil in Jesse's school of Colonial Training. With 
rod and line he was seriously fishing— for birds I 
" Don't you reckon," said Jesrie, relighting a 
stale cigar, that's it's time we stopped our Book ? " 

" Oh but " 

" It's tempting Providence young woman, it's 
encouraging the police. From the moment you 
started the thing, we've had more'n our share of 
adventures. Put up a notice ' Book Closed. No 
more adventures need apply. Try Surly Brown 
for a change.' " 
" But what shall we do? " 
" Publish the blamed thing, and serves it right. 
Throw it to the Critics." 
" But it's all secrets I " 

" Change the names and places. We'll be ' Mr. 
and Mrs. Smith,' well meaning private persons 
located somewhere west. I'm going to have blue 
eyes." 

" But mine are blue." 

" I made first grab. You can have green, and 
a large mouth, and your Christian name is Carrots. 
Hello, here's Baby David." 

My son was coming through the scented dusk, 
and in his arms he carried a large dog, a china 
dog with gilt muz7l°, split from nose to tail but 
carefully mended. 

"Sonny," said Jesse, " don't you drop Maria, 
or she'll have puppies." 



EPILOGUE 



a8S 



" I did, and she didn't, so there ! Something 
dropped out though. See Muramie." 

David had thrown Maria into my lap, and danced 
about in the gloaming with some strange trophy, 
the tail of a large animal. 

" Sort of reminds me," said Jesse, " of being 
a little boy. That's the Inspector's tail. This is 
quite a long way too from the Labrador." 

The wind made quite a disturbance, telling the 
pines to hush, while both my son and Jesse wanted 
to play with the wolf tail, and would not be quiet, 
althouph already the stars and the fireflies had 
lighted Cathedral Grove, and the great river like 
an organ crooned the first deep notes of Nature's 
Evensong. An awed expectant silence came to us. 
Lighten our darkness," said the grave old 
trees, " we beseech Thee." 

" By Thy great mercy," pleaded the little 
flowers. 

" Defend us from all perils," the small birds 
twittered. 

quavtel '""^"' °^ '^' "'^^''" '^' ^^P^"^ 

South wL'l'"'"''''^""'^^""'" -«<«''>« 

" Our Saviour Jesus Christ," a woman's voice 
responded. 

''Amen," the cliffs were breathing. 

•'Amen," the high clouds echoed. 

'Amen," said the organ river. 
Amen'*"™" "** '■«^«'"«"' woodlands came "Amen, 



Skerratl and Hughu, PrinUrt, MancketUr and London. 



6s. NOVELS. 



don. 



JOHN VERNEY. By Hobaoi Annbmt Viohmx. 
Anthor of " The UUI," " Bnthen," ato. 

MASTER AND MAID, By Mm. L. Allb« Harkib. 
AuMior of "MlwapeiBnceandMr.Wyoherly," "ABomMC 
of theNniMiy." 

THROUGH THE CHRYSALIS. By F. F. Mon- 
raraoiu Author of " The Bnnilng Torch," " A Fi»h oat of 

THE ANDERSONS. By S. Maonadohtan. Author of 
^ A Lame Dog's Diary," " Three Mi« Graemes," " U« Four," 

THE DRUMS OF WAR. By Henbi Di V«m 
Stacpoolk. Anthor of "The Blue Lagoon." 

BARKER'S. A Chronicle. By K H. Laoon Watson. 

Author of " The Barony of Brendon," " The Templars," etc. 

™f .h^^^nJ^P^^"^^- By a Paul N«uman. 
Author of "The Greatness of Josiah Porlick," "The Spoils 
01 Victory," etc. *^ 

THE VALLEY CAPTIVES. By Misa R. Maoaclat. 
Author of " The Secret River," " The Fnmace," etc. 

THE DOWNFALL OF THE GODS. By Sir 

HUOH CUFFOBD, K.C.M.G. Author of " Studies in Brown 
Humanity," " Heroes in Exile," "Further India," etc. 

THE MILLER OF OLD CHURCH. By Miaa 
Ellbk Glasgow. Author of "The Romance of a Plain 
Uan, etc. 

CHANTEMERLE. A Romance of the Vendean 

War. ByD. K. BEOSTKBandG. W. Taylob. 

CAN MAN PUT ASUNDER ? By Lady Napibb 

P.'n o?*^- Aotkorof "A Stormy Morning," "Fiona." 
" How She Played the Game." *' ' 



6s. NOVELS. 



DIAMOND CUT PASTE. Wow Mid Bomw 

Castu. Anthon<»f"Th«8«)i«tOroh»rf,""Inoomp»r»» 
BdUin," " Rom of the WorM," (tc. 

THE FLORENTINE .FRAME, By Mta Elu 

BRH RoBUS. Author of " Tho Mtgnetlo North. 

BAWBEE JOCK. By Amr Maolabin. Author 
" With thoMeiry Awtriui," etc. 

THE FORTUNE HUNTERS. (Short Stprie 
By VlOLBT Jacob. Author of " Irrwolute Catherine," 1 
Bbeepeteden," et«. 

POT AU FEU. (Short Stories). By Mabmadi 

PlOKTHALL. Author of "SUd the Flaheman,''^" The ChUd 
of the Nile,'* etc 

TALES OF THE TENEMENTS. (She 

Stories.) By Edbm Phillpotts, Author of " The H»ti 
" The Thief of Virtue," '• The Fun of the Fair," etc 

THE DOWNSMAN. By MIb. Maudi »)iJoi»i 
Author of •' The Tenants of Kxy Farm." " Dean'i HaU," 

CROOKED ANSWERS. 

Author of "Kaw Material," 
Hope Db Lisli Bbock. 



By PBTLua BoTTO 
•The Imperfeot Gift," 



IVOR. A Romance of North Devon and the Isli 

of Luodr. (Founded on FaoU). By Gbobob Hah 
Bussbll. Author of "Underthe Sjambok," "On Commani 

etc. 

GRIT. A Story of the Wilds of South-East Afri 

By Georoe Hansby Russell. 

THE RECLUSE OF RILL. Bjr W. Wri. 
Hemdxbson. Author of "John Goodcbud. 

THE PEER'S PROGRESS. By J. Stobib Cum 
Author of " A County Family," etc 



and Eomoa 
' Inoompanbl* 

r MiM Elua- 
rth." 

Author of 



>rt Storiet). 

bhtrinc," "Tha 



f Mabmaduki 
"ThsChUdnn 



S. (Short 

f" The Haven," 
" etc. 

Dl QowsiNO. 
gan'i HaU," etc. 

ujg BoTTon, 
leot Gift," and 



id the Island 

EOBOE HANSBY 
On Commando," 



•East Africa. 

■ W. Wriobt- 

}BIB GliODBTON.